Kent Archaeological Review extract
 

Book Reviews.
by Wendy Williams, Anne McLeod.

MEDIEVAL POTTERY FROM EXCAVATIONS.
Studies presented to Gerald Clough Dunning.

Edited by Vera I Evison, H.Hodges and J G Hurst.
Published by John Baker, Price 4.50.
Reviewed by Wendy Williams.

It has always surprised me how Medieval pottery has come to be so neglected until comparatively recently for those wonderful, slightly lopsided shapes are, to me, more fluid and more full of character than many of the uniform profiles produced in other periods. Not long ago I spent the odd half hour in a modern potter's showroom and it struck me that many of the most 'avant garde' shapes and colours reflected the homely work of the Medieval potter. It seems strange that so little emphasis has been laid on Medieval pottery found in archaeological contexts when the field is simply crying out to be studied.

Medieval Pottery from Excavations, published in 1974, is perhaps a slightly misleading title for, in fact, a sizeable portion of the book deals with Saxon pottery -- this is in no way a complaint, but I have always thought that the term Medieval referred to the 12th-15th centuries. No doubt someone will tell me that I am quite misguided!

The book contains a collection of studies presented to Gerald Clough Dunning in honour of his pioneer work in the field by his associates who are studying ceramics between the end of the Roman period and the 17th century. Henry Hodges in the first essay introduces the subject with The Medieval Potter: Artisan or artist? in which he discusses the potter himself and his place in Medieval society. John Musty then follows with his classification of the various types of kilns. There has been an increasing number of these kilns found and a guideline on their division into basic types is a useful and important contribution to the subject. The text of Eraclius, De Coloribus et artibus, is then studied and Professor M de Bollard examines two recipes -- one for the preparation of potters' clay and one for lead and copper glazes.

The next four essays deal with the pagan Saxon period and here Kent seems almost unique in producing the only wheel-thrown pots known to this period. Authors include Vera I Evison, Philip Rahtz, Professor B W Cunliffe and Martin Biddle and his research assistant Katherine Barclay. The last three essays discuss later periods and here the field broadens to include western Europe by authors including K J Barton, Dr Bernhard Beckmann, and J G Hurst.

In conclusion I can only say that I would like to see far more research done on the Medieval potter and his work and I hope that this book will help to provide the required stimulus.

THE PREPARATION OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL REPORTS.
By Leslie Grinsell, Philip Rahtz and David Price Williams
Published by John Baker, Price 2.75.
Reviewed by Wendy Williams.

The moment I saw this book I thought 'Aha, here is my next opportunity to waggle a finger at all those hard-working diggers who could turn themselves into archaeologists by publishing their work'. How many times have I heard the excuse 'I haven't got enough spare time at the moment', when the truth is that the complexity of the task ahead simply produces the 'I'll do it tomorrow' syndrome.

Well, here is just the book you all need and I'm sure that the very title is making you cringe with guilt. The Preparation of Archaeological Reports is now in its second edition and is in a bigger, better and more handsome form. The original publication was intended to cater for the needs of the Bristol area but recognising that the need was just as great elsewhere, the authors have made several alterations and additions to the original form. One of the original authors, Alan Warhurst, has been replaced by David Price Williams who has written the chapter on the illustrations for an archaeological report. The Form of Publication is a new chapter as is Distribution Maps.

I am sure that the knowledge gained from this book would be a great step towards overcoming the difficulties of compiling a first report and certainly anyone who is contemplating such a task should have this book nearby for reference.

JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SCIENCE.
Edited by G W Dimbleby, D R Brothwell and H Barker
Published by Academic Press quarterly, Subscription 8.00.
Reviewed by Anne Mcleod.

This publication seems to be the archaeological world's answer to Scientific American. I have only seen Volume 1 so far, but if the initial high standard is maintained, then the series will, indeed, represent an important addition to the field of archaeological science. As the title suggests, these are not excavation reports as such, but are scientific studies of certain aspects of archaeological work. Hence papers such as the Buhen Horse by J Clutton-Brock which is a thorough discussion of the skeleton of the earliest horse to be found so far on an Egyptian site or Vitrified Forts in Scotland: A Problem in Interpretation and Primitive Technology by D R Brothwell, A C Bishop and A R Woolley.

The journal aims to provide an international forum for archaeological science. Previously published work will also be used in the hope that it will reach a wider audience and this will include papers from other archaeological journals and archaeological papers published in other scientific journals.

 
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