Pottery from Mount Caburn, East Sussex

As discussed in a previous post the Excavating Pitt-Rivers team has been working on cataloguing the ceramic material excavated by General Pitt-Rivers at Mount Caburn - an Iron Age hillfort on the South Downs near Lewes, East Sussex - in the summers of 1877 and 1878. This assemblage of material represents one of the earliest ever made through a modern scientific open-area excavation. It is a very large assemblage, comprising approximately 3,472 sherds of pottery from this single site. Most of the pottery is Iron Age in date. Below is a brief discussion of some of the different types of pottery in the assemblages.

The majority of the ceramic material consists of sherds from pottery vessels. From visual examination of the ceramic fabrics it is evident that five different tempers – non-plastic inclusions added to clay to alter the physical and/or mechanical properties of the clay - were used; fine sand, coarse sand, shell, grog and burnt flint.
Photographs of the five different tempers used in the pottery excavated from Mount Caburn. Left to right - fine sand (PRM 1884.137.37 .3), coarse sand (PRM 1884.137.38 .10), shell (PRM 1884.137.3.101), grog (PRM 1884.137.5 .2) and burnt flint (PRM 1884.137.1 .25).
Production method:
The majority, if not all, of the pottery is hand-made. There is evidence for the coil and drawn techniques. A number of sherds have fractured along the coil joins and others have finger impressions from where the clay has been moulded into shape.
In the middle of this sherd is a finger impression - this indicates that the original vessel was handled prior to drying and may even be evidence of the production technique used whilst making it. (PRM 1884.137.35 .150)
Decoration/surface treatments:
The pottery is largely undecorated. However a number of the grog-tempered sherds appear to have had their surfaces wiped, leaving striations on the surfaces in random orientations. The following photographs show a range of decoration and surface treatments that we have found.

A number of the decorated sherds have these sub-triangular impressions - these will have been made using a broken bone, twig or similar implement. (PRM 1884.137.11 .16)
This sherd shows fine horizontal linear impressions in a herringbone design along the top of the rim and a series of overlapping curved lines that have been incised under the rim. (PRM 1884.137.19 .24)
Two moulded bands run just underneath this rim sherd. The bands have also been impressed with small horizontal lines. (PRM 1884.137.39 .1)
This vessel has been burnished - this is where the vessel is polished, in its leather-hard state, using a pebble, or similar implement, to create a shiny surface. There are a number of sherds from Mount Caburn that have been burnished. (PRM 1884.137.35 .20)
The majority of the pottery sherds are reduce fired, some with oxidized outer surfaces and others show uneven firing environments. 
The grog tempered sherds are much softer in texture and still feel like they have not completely cintered, the fractured surfaces are also heavily abraded. This indicates that this particular wear wasn't fired to high enough temperatures to completely transform the clay into ceramic.
A couple of sherds have evidence of spalling. Spalling is when the ceramic explodes during firing. It occurs when the drying process is not complete. The water that remains in the clay expands when it turns to gas during the firing process which causes the ceramic to explode, or spall. If one pot fails in this way it often causes the entire batch that is being fired to fail.
Evidence of spalling (PRM 1884.137.31.62)

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