Pottery

Pottery dimensions

Very rarely will you find a whole pot, if you do very carefully transport it to your FLO. Pottery still goes under ‘Vessel’ as the type, even if it is only a fragment. Just state what type of sherd you have. The 3 types of sherds you will see are rim, base and body. You may also find other parts, like handles, feet, spouts or applied decorative pieces. Pieces of tile can also look like pieces of pottery vessels but generally these are coarser. Put these under ‘Tile’ as the object type.

There are too many types of ceramics to go into here. In order for the FLO to identify the type/form, your description is key. Below is how you should describe a sherd and what to look for:

  • What colour is it; how hard is it (can you scratch it with your nail);
  • is it coarse ware or fineware (is the fabric made of lots of big bits, or fine sand-like particles)
  • what inclusions are in the fabric (the bits in the ceramic, you don't have to know what they are just describe their colour, whether they are large/small, whether they are round or angular, and whether they occur frequently or are rare)
  • was it made by hand or wheel thrown; are there any bits added onto the sherd; and any surface treatments or decoration.

If you want to have a go at dating the pot or naming the type of vessel it came from you can, but don't worry as it is very difficult unless you know what you are looking at. The same goes for describing the form of the rim or base. 

Example description

A rim sherd of coarseware Medieval pottery. The fabric is soft, and reddish orange in colour. The fabric contains frequent quartz inclusions, various sizes large to small, mainly angular and not well sorted. The fabric has a slightly reduced core where the carbon in the centre has not burnt out. This was part of a wheel thrown vessel, that had a diameter of 20cm. This is an everted rim, thickened on the outside. This would have come from a large jar. The sherd has remnants of green glaze on the outside. It is likely that this is a piece of Mill Green ware, dating to the 13th or 14th century.