Ceramic views of Scotland and northern England from the Neolithic to the 20th century: issues of method, practice and theory

An inter-disciplinary meeting at the University of Glasgow, Department of Archaeology, Lecture Theatre, July 1-2, 2010

Ceramics feature, if unevenly, among the finds from most archaeological excavations in Scotland and northern England.  Some groups of ceramic materials are both well known and intensively studied, while others have often received less attention. Although period-based specialisms continue to dominate the study of ceramics in Scotland, as elsewhere in Britain, these studies are commonly focussed upon the same issues of date, function and contact. The last two decades have seen major changes in the study of ceramics. These changes, which have affected the study of pottery of the different time periods to contrasting extents, are multifarious; they range from the introduction of an explicitly theoretical element to the interpretation of the ceramic evidence, to a reappraisal of the ‘traditional’ objectives of pottery study, and to the application of science-based techniques.

In light of this situation, and building crucially on the efforts of the national pottery research groups (for prehistory, Roman and the Medieval), the time is right to examine methodological and theoretical issues confronting current study of specifically Northern Britain ceramics on a period by period basis and then to cut across the period divide and consider how practices, approaches and priorities evident in the study in a particular period could benefit those adopted in another period. We hope this meeting, which has received financial support from the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and the National Museums of Scotland, will be a unique opportunity to encourage greater dialogue between period specialists as well as greater coordination in ceramic study in northern Britain. At the very least it should act as a forum and help to raise the profile of this branch of artefact study. 

In addition to the talks, there will be separate discussion sessions.

Meeting Summary and Extended Abstracts (July 2011)

Introduction and Schedule


Richard Jones, Daniel Sahlén and Louisa Hammersley