An Unknown Medieval Object

                                                                                                 Fig. 43                                                              Fig. 44





















                                                                                                                            Fig. 45

Figure 43 was submitted to the Portable Antiquities Scheme and they said it was nothing but stone. I was not happy with this, as the object clearly appeared to have a worn arc and one straight side, so it was kept. The next season’s dig produced Figure 44 at the same medieval level and lo-and-behold the pieces joined (Fig. 45). It was then resubmitted to the Portable Antiquities Scheme and I will provide the full description in the hope that someone knows what it is: ‘Unidentified object, perhaps a floor tile or wet stone. Sandstone or quartzite, rectangular-sectioned, two long sides forming a right-angle, two short (and perhaps broken) sides, the fifth side deeply concave. The concave edge and one face are very smooth as if worn. Broken relatively recently, now in two conjoining pieces. Despite the suggestive shape it seems unlikely to be a tile cut to fit around a curved edge as the edge is so well smoothed. Measuring 95 x 95mm. 18mm thick at maximum.’ I dispute the suggestion that it was broken recently.

Some Pre-Medieval Finds That Have Helped Inform My Practice

The term ‘Medieval Period’ can sometimes refer to Pre-Conquest and takes into account the period after the Romans left Britain in the early 5th Century, up to the Norman Kings, and beyond to the Tudors. For me, ‘Medieval’ refers to the period after the Norman invasion of 1066 and ends with the death of Richard III in 1485.


Some finds in the dig pre-date my definition of the medieval period, yet still have much to contribute to my art practice. Below are a few examples of what we have found that are important to me, for they contribute to those ‘Ah!’ moments.










Fig. 46

Large fragment of Thetford ware storage jar rim with potter’s thumb mark (bottom right) (10th-12th C.)

          Fig. 47

The same large fragment of Thetford ware as Figure 46 from the top of the rim showing three finger impressions, as decoration, on the inner rim (10th-12th C.). These jars were massive and the finger decoration would have encompassed the entire circumference of the rim.

                                                                                      Fig. 48                                                                      Fig. 49 

                                                                         Thetford ware jar rim sherd (11th-12th C.)                                    Thetford ware cooking pot rim sherd   

                                                                                                                                                                           showing exposure to cooking (11-12th C)

                                                                                    Fig. 50                                     Fig. 51                              Fig. 52

Three examples of rouletting (using a wheel carved with geometric patterns) on Saxon Thetford ware pottery (9th-11th C.). It is nice to think that even in those dark, harsh times, effort was spent in decorating simple, everyday ware.

                                                                                Fig. 53                                                             Fig. 54

Iron Age pottery bowl sherd (800-100 B.C.) showing a heavily flint tempered outer (Fig. 53) and inner (Fig. 54) rim, respectively. Flint was added to the clay to give stability when throwing and firing (in the medieval period crushed shell was used, as it required a lower firing temperature – under 850C). This piece of pottery just emanates the Iron Age period for me.