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Peterborough Ware and the
Middle Neolithic
Dr Adam S Tinsley
Why Peterborough Ware?
• Peterborough Ware formerly regarded as a late Neolithic ceramic tradition, largely contemporary
w...
The study Area
• Extended from the Thames Valley,
through East Anglia and the East
Midlands to the top of Yorkshire
• Pres...
Achievements
• Produced the largest reference
corpus to date, incorporating
over 10,000 sherds from over
300 sites, with 1...
Results
• Main typology is robust and comprehensive with the vast majority of current
material adhering to the subgroup fo...
Ebbsfleet Ware
• Predominantly soft, s-shaped profiles (some carinated and angular forms)
• Mainly globular bowls, one or ...
Mortlake Ware
• Some simple s-shaped profiles but more often heavily carinated bi-partite bowls and jars, conical
and cyli...
Fengate Ware
• Predominantly conical or cylindrical jar and bowl forms, although a number of round bottomed
simple or bi-p...
Size range
• Internal capacity calculated using a system of conic frusta (Barrett 1980)
• Produced similar results to thos...
• Some
distinction
between the
subgroups in
terms of
internal
capacities
• Some possible bias
relating to the difficulty
r...
Fabric Types
• Flint tempered fabrics predominate but there
is a wide range of different fabric types
employed within the ...
Context of recovery
• Patterns of recovery according to site type i.e. Smith (1956) and Thomas (1999), (Ebbsfleet held
to ...
• The tripartite typology holds firm and coherent across the study area, dividing a range of variation
in terms of form, i...
The Middle Neolithic
• Before radiocarbon aided chronologies Piggott proposed a tripartite division of the Neolithic into ...
Peterborough Ware and the Middle Neolithic
Peterborough Ware and the Middle Neolithic
Peterborough Ware and the Middle Neolithic
Peterborough Ware and the Middle Neolithic
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Peterborough Ware and the Middle Neolithic

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Peterborough Ware and the Middle Neolithic

  1. 1. Peterborough Ware and the Middle Neolithic Dr Adam S Tinsley
  2. 2. Why Peterborough Ware? • Peterborough Ware formerly regarded as a late Neolithic ceramic tradition, largely contemporary with Grooved Ware and Beakers, distributed across England and Wales • It comprises of three distinct subgroups, distinguished in terms of form but also context of use/recovery, that was framed by Smith (1956) in a uni-linear sequence of evolution from Ebbsfleet-Mortlake-Fengate, Ebbsfleet thought to have roots among Early Neolithic decorated wares and Fengate Ware to develop into Early Bronze Age forms such as Food Vessels and Collared Urns due to stylistic similarities • Gibson and Kinnes, 1997, review of associated radiocarbon evidence= pushes back overall chronology for the tradition into the Early to Middle Neolithic and effectively collapsed the internal sequence of evolution. Subgroups = contemporary entities • If the evolutionary sequence cannot be sustained what holds the typology together? • No published typology and little dedicated literature compared to other ceramic traditions, i.e. Cleal and MacSween 1999 or Clarke 1970, due in part to the character of P. Ware assemblages (relatively small, fragmented and derive largely from secondary contexts) • A large body of material, mainly comprising published and un-published commercially funded assemblages, has been recovered since Smith devised the original typology, which was based upon a relatively small corpus of material. • Opportune and warranted
  3. 3. The study Area • Extended from the Thames Valley, through East Anglia and the East Midlands to the top of Yorkshire • Presents a continuous study area • Good body of literature relevant to the area i.e. Smith 1956 and Cleal 1986 • Features many larger well documented assemblages, including the subgroup type sites as well as many recent commercial assemblages • Contains both typical and a-typical material, including regional variation i.e. Rudston Ware
  4. 4. Achievements • Produced the largest reference corpus to date, incorporating over 10,000 sherds from over 300 sites, with 1000+ illustrations including nearly 200 reconstructed vessel profiles • Comprehensive assessment of: 1. Typological parameters of the tradition and sub-group divisions 2. Internal vessel capacities calculated using conic frusta method (Barrett 1980) 3. Fabric groups 4. Context of recovery 5. General review of chronological development of the Neolithic
  5. 5. Results • Main typology is robust and comprehensive with the vast majority of current material adhering to the subgroup forms or variations there of across much of the study area • This is substantiated by variation between the different subgroups in: • form, including rim and general body shape • decorative variation and complexity • the overall range of vessel sizes and some evidence of preferential size classes
  6. 6. Ebbsfleet Ware • Predominantly soft, s-shaped profiles (some carinated and angular forms) • Mainly globular bowls, one or two conical and a single (equivocal) cylindrical jar form • Simple rims with edge often rolled internally, divided into 4 categories as set out by Smith • Simple decoration often limited to upper sections of the vessel
  7. 7. Mortlake Ware • Some simple s-shaped profiles but more often heavily carinated bi-partite bowls and jars, conical and cylindrical bowls and jars, with flat bases, are also common • Some simple rim forms but an extensive array of moulded rim types as set out by Smith with some minor additions • Profuse decoration, sometimes quite complex in terms of the number and range of motifs on a single vessel, often executed across the entire surface of the vessel
  8. 8. Fengate Ware • Predominantly conical or cylindrical jar and bowl forms, although a number of round bottomed simple or bi-partite bowls do exist • A small number of rim forms originally identified by Smith that can be expanded to include a limited number of new forms • Profuse decoration, often extending across the entire vessel surface, including some complex motifs incorporating an extensive number of decorative media but tends to be more restrained than Mortlake Ware
  9. 9. Size range • Internal capacity calculated using a system of conic frusta (Barrett 1980) • Produced similar results to those obtained by Thomas 1999, with some evidence for an emphasis upon two, possibly three, distinct quanta, although the largest vessel capacities were absent (i.e. 20,000 cc) and the range of the size classes focused upon smaller vessels Figure 66. Vessel capacities among Peterborough Ware vessels, enhanced by the addition of material external to the study area 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 0-5001001-15002001-25003001-35004001-45005001-55006001-65007001-75008001-85009001-9500 10001-10500 11001-11500 12001-12500 13001-13500 14001-14500 15001-15500 16001-16500 17001-17500 18001-18500 19001-19500O ver20000 Vessel capacity arranged according to 500cc groupings Numberofvessels IND F M E
  10. 10. • Some distinction between the subgroups in terms of internal capacities • Some possible bias relating to the difficulty reconstructing cylindrical, and to a lesser extent conical body forms, compared to globular body forms • may account for absence of larger vessel sizes, particularly among Mortlake and Fengate Ware Vessel capacity (cc) within the Ebbsfleet subgroup 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0-5001001-15002001-25003001-35004001-45005001-55006001-65007001-75008001-85009001-9500 10001-10500 11001-1150012001-12500 13001-1350014001-14500 15001-1550016001-1650017001-17500 18001-1850019001-19500O ver20000 Vessel capacity arranged in 500 cc groupings Numberofvesselsrepressented Vessel capacity (cc) within the Mortlake Subgroup 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 0-5001001-15002001-25003001-35004001-45005001-55006001-65007001-75008001-85009001-9500 10001-1050011001-1150012001-1250013001-1350014001-1450015001-1550016001-1650017001-17500 18001-1850019001-19500O ver20000 Vessel capacity according to 500 cc groupings Numberofvesselsrepressented Vessel capacity (cc) within the Fengate Ware subgroup 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0-5001001-15002001-25003001-35004001-45005001-55006001-65007001-75008001-85009001-9500 10001-1050011001-1150012001-1250013001-1350014001-1450015001-1550016001-1650017001-1750018001-1850019001-19500O ver20000 Vessel capacity arranged in 500cc groupings Numberofvesselsrepressented
  11. 11. Fabric Types • Flint tempered fabrics predominate but there is a wide range of different fabric types employed within the tradition, contrasts to Cleal’s study of the material from Wessex (1995) • Little distinction between the subgroups in terms of fabric types • Material from the same site or local area tend to be very similar if not identical, even from one ceramic tradition to another i.e. Willington • Fabric variation possibly operates on a much broader regional scale with broad areas distinguished by different preferences in temper agent, i.e. East Midlands preference for quartz, a spatial extension of patterns noted by Gibson in relation to Welsh material? • This may reflect the opportunistic use of locally available materials but may also have a cultural origin and perhaps relating to the operation of local potting traditions
  12. 12. Context of recovery • Patterns of recovery according to site type i.e. Smith (1956) and Thomas (1999), (Ebbsfleet held to be absent from pit deposits while Fengate almost exclusively recovered from such contexts) suggested the subgroups were relatively mutually exclusive • These distinctions are not quite so hard and fast as previously suggested, i.e. Fengate Ware while demonstrating a strong preference for deposition in pits is not exclusively to them while Ebbsfleet Ware has been recovered from pit deposits • However, the frequency with which the subgroups are combined at any one site do demonstrate a degree of mutual exclusivity • e.g. sites more commonly contain a single subgroup or a combination of Ebbsfleet with Mortlake and Mortlake with Fengate, Ebbsfleet Ware rarely occurs in combination with Fengate Ware and almost exclusively only when Mortlake Ware is also present • Where Ebbsfleet and Fengate Ware do occur in combination, e.g. at sites such as Willington and Heathrow, there is some evidence for the spatial separation of the wares • This may demonstrate that Ebbsfleet and Fengate Ware occupied distinct functional and perhaps conceptual categories • Mortlake Ware by contrast appears ubiquitous, its use cutting across these categories • Where Peterborough Ware is deployed at sites with an earlier origin they invariably accompany significant changes in the nature of the site, i.e ring ditch monuments, causewayed enclosures etc
  13. 13. • The tripartite typology holds firm and coherent across the study area, dividing a range of variation in terms of form, including possible size preferences, decoration and context of use, although it has long been pointed out that it collapses away from core areas (i.e in the north) • Differences between the subgroups, particularly that between Ebbsfleet Ware and Fengate Ware, in terms of form, decoration but more importantly context of use/deposition suggest they operated as distinct functional and/or conceptual categories • If Ebbsfleet Ware can be seen as a development of earlier ceramic traditions, Fengate Ware embodies a distinct change in ceramic production • Possible explanations for this may reside in changes in the nature, scale and/or context of food production/preparation that required the evolution of new ceramic forms • As ever Mortlake Ware operates in a bridging capacity between the two other subgroups in terms of form and context of deposition/use, does this reflect; 1. a more generalised function and/or 2. An additional chronological element? • The later has been mooted by Barclay in a previous paper and has since been supported by lines of bayesian modelling of associated radiocarbon dates (i.e. Beamish 2009 Willington study) • Supported by typology and context • Mortlake Ware may be the end product of a fusion of Ebbsfleet Ware and Fengate Ware form and function? Conclusions
  14. 14. The Middle Neolithic • Before radiocarbon aided chronologies Piggott proposed a tripartite division of the Neolithic into Early, Middle and Late • While his criteria, and indeed his chronological framework, has since become defunct, largely due to the influence of radiocarbon dating, which allowed Smith to argue for a simple bipartite division of the period into an early and a late phase, radiocarbon appears to be shifting the ground once more • the realignment of the chronological currency of Peterborough Ware, radically alters the ceramic sequence placing it between early Neolithic ceramic traditons and the arrival of Grooved Ware • This brings it chronologically into line with other forms of material culture which have undergone a similar realignment, i.e. cursus monuments (Barclay and Bayliss 1999), • When taken with other patterns of association together with patterns of change elsewhere in the archaeological record i.e.

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