DISCUSSION

The following discussion is necessarily of an interim nature as excavations continue on the site and could easily affect overall conclusions. Nevertheless with around 200 vessels represented, divided fairly evenly between the Villa/A/B area and the Gateway and area, it would seem profitable to look generally at the collection.

The information in the catalogue above has been summarised in four tables. Table 1, lists vessels by form and source within the two areas. The figures given are intended to represent the maximum number of vessels present. So pieces certainly from or likely to be from the same vessel are counted as one. There will, of course, be cases of doubt. It is likely that some pieces from the same vessel are scattered through several contexts and have not been detected and this needs to be born in mind when drawing conclusions. However, the maximum vessel count should provide use with a means of getting an overview of what is (and is not) present in the two areas and allow us to make comparisons between them.

Table 1. Blacklands samian by form and source

FORM

VILLA A/B ETC

%

GATEHOUSE

%

South Gaul

15/17

1

15/17 or 18

2

18

2

1

18/31

3

4

18/31R

2

27

3

2

30

1

36

1

37

2

3

67

1

Curle 11

1

Dish

1

1

Bowl

1

Total SG

14

12.61

18

19.15

Les Martres
18/31

6

12

27

3

30

1

33

3

2

35var

1

36

2

37

3

8

42

2

4

Curle 11

2

Cup

1

Bowl

1

Total Les Martres

18

16.22

33

35.11

Lezoux
18/31

13

5

18/31R

2

1

18/31 or 31

6

18/31R or 31R

3

27

4

30

1

31

13

9

31R

2

1

32

1

33

17

9

36

1

1

37

6

5

38

1

42

2

1

45

1

72

1

Curle 11

1

1

E.Lez. Curle 11

1

Curle 15

1

Cup

1

Bowl

4

7

Total Lezoux

79

71.17

43

45.74

TOTALS

111

94

It is clear from Table 1 that vessels from Central Gaul far outweigh all others. Even allowing for the fact that rural sites are usually less well provided with samian in the first century than later, the numbers of South Gaulish pieces on either site is sufficiently low to suggest, either a reduced level of occupation or activity which did not intensify until late in the century. We will consider this matter later when considering the general dating of our pieces. By contrast, the pieces from Les Martres are comparatively high, especially when one considers that the centre was exporting mainly (though not exclusively) in the first quarter of the second century. Lezoux pieces, however, dominate with a range of forms which spread right across the century.

We can examine the material chronologically in another way. In the catalogue we have attempted to give all pieces a date range, although, inevitably, this has sometimes had to be a generalised one. By treating each vessel as a unit and dividing that unit evenly across its date range, we can accumulate information which can be presented in the form of histograms (Tables 2-3 below). These treat each area separately and give a general view of vessel loss per half decade and thus of the intensity of activity on each site. The Villa/A/B area clearly gives no indication of occupation in the pre-Flavian period and a slight indication of increasing activity across the Flavian. The Gateway area, by contrast has slight indication of earlier activity (but only slight) and fairly even loss across the Flavian period. On both sites, the sudden increase in activity in the first decades of the second century is very apparent and remarkable given the general tendency for many sites to show a decrease in samian importation at this time (cf. Marsh 1981, p.191 for some comparable histograms). On both sites, the early 2nd century burst of activity is followed by a fairly even level of vessel loss, greater on the Villa area than the gateway but otherwise consistent with continuous activity on or near the sites across the remainder of the second century (and presumably beyond into the period after major samian importation).

Tables 2-3. Vessel Loss per Half Decade.

Date

Villa & A/B

Gatehouse Date Villa & A/B

Gatehouse

60-65

0

0.33

125-130

5.11

3.69

65-70

0

0.33

130-135

5.28

3.19

70-75

1.5

2.63

135-140

5.28

3.39

75-80

1.5

2.63

140-145

5.28

2.89

80-85

1.75

2.63

145-150

5.28

3.09

85-90

1.75

2.63

150-155

4.80

3.35

90-95

2.25

2.29

155-160

4.80

3.35

95-100

2.25

2.29

160-165

5.13

3.40

100-105

7.15

10.43

165-170

5.13

3.40

105-110

7.15

10.43

170-175

5.38

2.95

110-115

5.15

8.3

175-180

5.38

2.95

115-120

5.15

8.3

180-185

4.71

2.95

120-125

8.11

8.29

185-190

4.71

2.95

Totals

109.98

103.06

Our tables thus show a consistent pattern and are all remarkable is showing a burst of activity involving vessels of the period A.D.100-125. The most likely explanation for this is that this period saw major building in both areas with freshly broken vessels dumped for levelling and then sealed by buildings. The more even periods of vessel loss in the later 1st and mid-late 2nd century are more likely to represent casual accumulation of rubbish from occupation on or near the sites.

Something of the character of the occupation at Blacklands can be determined by looking at the samian forms in a way which reflects their function. In Table 4 below, we have divided the vessels listed in Table 1 into decorated (i.e. mould decorated) and plain wares and further divided the plain ware into classes. This reveals that decorated ware formed just below 12% of the samian from the Villa/A/B site and a surprisingly much higher 20% in the Gateway area but the higher Gateway total calls for some explanation when the site is considered generally. Both are probably within the range to be expected on a rural civilian site, although the numbers of Les Martres pieces are noticeably high in comparison to South Gaulish or Lezoux pieces on both sites.

The plain wares are possibly more revealing. All the forms present (with the exception of the 35 variant are fairly standard ones. One might suspect that they were being used as table ware as one might expect more of the mortarium forms (45, Curle 23 etc.) had samian kitchen ware been in vogue on the site. The number of smaller dishes is noticeably low also, presumably suggesting a cuisine presented on plates and bowls rather than in small side dishes. Cups, too, although present in some numbers seems slightly under-represented in comparison to the bowls and plates and it may be that drinking vessels in other material made up this deficiency.

Overall the collection is notable for its lack of range. Only the common forms are present and not even all of those. One might perhaps expect the late forms like 31R and 45 to have been accompanied by 79/80.

Table 4. Blacklands samian by form, source and class.

FORMS

Site: Villa

& A/B

Gate.

&c

SOURCE:

SG

LMdV

CG

Totals

%

SG

LMdV

CG

Total

%

CLASS:
Decorated
30

1

1

1

37

2

3

6

3

8

5

67

1

72

1

Total Dec'd

2

4

7

13

11.71

5

8

6

19

20.21

Plain
Cups
27

3

4

2 3
33

3

17

2 9
35var

1

undiff

1

1
Total cups

3

4

22

29

26.13

2

6

9

17

18.09

Bowls
18/21R or 31R

9

1

31 & 31R 15

10

32

1

38

1

Curle 11

1

2

1

1

2

Undiff.

1

4

1

1

7

Total bowls

2

2

30

34

30.63

1

1

21

23

24.47

Mortaria
45

1

1

0.90

Small dishes

36

1

1

2

1

42

2

2

4

1

Curle 15

1

undiff.

1

Total dishes

0

2

4

6

5.41

2

6

2

10

10.64

Plates/dishes
15/17 & 18

2

4

18/21 & 18/31R

5

6

15

4

12

5

Total plates

7

6

15

28

25.23

8

12

5

25

26.60

TOTALS

111

100.00

94 100.00

In general, the samian reveals a site of limited wealth utilising samian across a period from the Flavian until the cessation of Central Gaulish imports, probably at the end of the second century. Third century East Gaulish pieces are absent, but, given the considerably lower level of East Gaulish importation into Britain and its general dearth in the West of the country, this probably signifies little. Hopefully, further excavation at Blacklands can add detail to the patterns suggested above, or indeed alter them by the addition of new data.

PVW

24.iv.07