A selection of ceramics through the ages (5 second delay) Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology The Collections:
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· Early Europe & Near East
· Classical to Medieval
· Europe from 1500
· Oriental & Islamic
CONSPICUOUS LIQUID CONSUMPTION
A RE-EVALUATION EXERCISE OF
THE NEW BODLEIAN EXTENSION SITE, BROAD STREET, OXFORD 1937

 

What the data tells us (2)

 

The late 13th to early 14th centuries

From the mid-13th century onwards copper oxide is added to produce the green mottle and dark green glazes (Mellor 1994, 117) found in wells 10, 11 and 13 with little or no applied plastic decoration (Fig.8). There is a more diverse range of vessels in the lamps, dishes, flasks and bottles that appear in Well 13 and Pit G, both of which lie behind 41-44 Broad Street, but unfortunately, none have rim sherds and therefore the vessel equivalent cannot be quantified.

Fig.8. A biconical jug with a green mottle glaze next to a round jug with a green mottle streaky glaze.

The vessel occurrence per phase (based on rim %), expressed as a percentage of the EVE per phase has been calculated in line with Blinkhorn  (2002, Table 7, 236) and the details are shown in Table 3. The vessel forms fit the profile found elsewhere, in showing a reduction of jars in the late 13th /early 14th centuries, from 14.7% to 3.9% of the total EVE.  There is a growing diversity in the shape of jugs to include conical, biconical and an increasing number of balusters.  The tripod pitcher represents 69.7% of Phase I (although it should be recognised that Phase I consists entirely of Well 2) reducing to 5.2% in the early to mid-13th century and not appearing as significant by the late 13th century. However, the appearance of a tripod pitcher in the OXAM fabric (a later Brill/Boarstall development to the earlier sandy OXAW ware) in Well 4 is surprising, and may suggest this form of vessel was still being made in the late 13th/early 14th century.  However, the dating of this well is not entirely secure and the pod feet were well worn, which could argue for an earlier date. The earliest occurrence of the coarseware Brill tradition in Oxford is 1231 AD in the Infirmary of the Hospital of St John the Baptist (Durham 1991).  The fineware OXAM fabric in Oxford is dated by the Dominican Priory with earliest recorded deposits in 1250 AD (Lambrick, 1985). Only the base of this pitcher remains, but its diameter of 220mm suggests a size in line with the Medieval Oxfordware OXY tripod pitcher whose base measured 225mm. 

From the late 13th century, there is a more diverse range of vessels in the lamps, dishes, flasks and bottles that appear in Well 13 and Pit G, both of which lie behind 41-44 Broad Street, but unfortunately, none have rim sherds and therefore the vessel equivalent cannot be quantified 

There is no indication of dripping dishes or curfews (used to cover the fire) which often appear in domestic assemblages at this time, but this may also be a consequence of retrieval techniques. Perhaps more significantly, there are no small individual drinking jugs which might be expected (Mellor 1994, 118).   By Phase 3, diverse vessel forms appear in the local Brill tradition and indicate people are either not inclined to seek alternatives, or none were available in the markets by the early 14th century.  The partially glazed and uniformly mottle-green decoration argues for a more austere time, in line with the social and economic changes taking place following the famines of 1315-17 AD and pre-Black Death (1348 AD).  These plainer jugs are in sharp contrast to the highly decorated vessels appearing in Wells 9 and 15, where a variety of intricate applied and incised decoration is seen, including the French influence on the parrot beak bridge-spouted  jugs; one decorated with pine cone scales and the other with applied face masks and trellis work (See Fig. 9).    These two wells, potentially situated within the same tenement at 37-38 Broad Street, produced a variety of decorated jug forms and suggest that the occupiers enjoyed a range of highly decorated vessels to adorn their table.  Whether these jugs served functionally different purposes might be highlighted by an examination of the vessel capacities.

Fig. 9:  The Well 9 assemblage shows the strikingly colourful, highly decorated jugs of the 13th century. In the foreground are two parrot beak bridge-spouted jugs behind which stand one baluster and two rounded jugs

 


The late 12th to mid-13th centuries List of Contents Did size matter?
 
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