Pottery finds

Billericay Archaeological and Historical Society

By Peter Benians

In 1973 the new section of the main road to Basildon was constructed between Southend Road and the southern end of Laindon Road, between the two current roundabouts. Members of the Billericay Archaeological and Historical Society untook a site-watch brief for the construction of this road, officially known as Noak Hill Road Stage IV.

On 27th August 1973 a cremation cemetery was observed and on the following day many articles were retrieved from the jaws of the scrapers that were grading the course of the road.

The site of the cemetery is now under the road with hundreds of drivers passing over it every day.

Shown below are some of the finds that were discovered on that day. The six black and white photographs with centimetre scales on the notice board were taken by Brian Drewe.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Pottery finds' page
Upper row (left to right)

38 b1   Folded beaker originally with dark olive green slip, decorated with scales. Found in a black area, it had been re-heated and had a reddish surface layer on a grey core. May have come from the Peterborough area following a Rhenish pottery style.

42 b     A ring-necked flagon in a red fabric, turned in the lower part to achieve this form. From the neck down the exterior was coated in white slip with a dribble down the inside. The strap handle was luted to the body.

32 b     Toasting cup or small bowl 10 cm diameter at rim in a dark grey to black fabric. The surfaced was smoothed (burnished). Possibly made locally.


Lower row

20 a     Urn on a low pedestal base (24 b) which had become detached in antiquity. The clay has been strengthened with fragments of brown and red broken pottery and was fired to a black colour. It contained about 560 g of cremated bones of a middle aged adult. Two iron broaches and some hobnails were found within and these helped with the dating.

24 c     Urn on a taller pedestal.. It was turned to shape and fired to a mid grey colour. This form has parallels found on the north Kent coast and suggests that before the Roman invasions South Essex was in the territory of a tribe based on the Thames estuary. No contents were reported.

19c      Two parts of a mirror handle. In the acid sand, fragments of wrapping had been preserved in the corrosion. One was a woollen cloth and it was also suggested that a skin bag had held the article. No disc was detected.


On the table (vessel reconstructions).

24 b     Urn part of group 24, fired grey with a red core and black surface contained about 1kg of cremated bones of a young to middle-aged adult. As with many urns found the upper portion was missing probably having been moved by ploughing.

24c      Carinated cup fired to a hard pale grey with a blacker surface and decorated with three horizontal cordons.

33        Samian cup. The one with this reference number had a makers stamp read as “SACIR. {Sacro of Lezoux). The shiny red slip with which these vessels are covered is very soft. This specimen was badly abraded.

52        Urn: as the base is hidden it is not certain that it has been correctly identified. The 52 urn had pieces of a narrow neck and was very fragile. It was fired dark brown sandwiched between light brown strengthen with fine sand. It continued 900g of cremated bone of a young adult possibly male. The accompanying jar provided the dating evidence (not shown)

22b      Lower part of jar fired brown with red centre and black surface. It contained 900 g of cremated bone which were identified as animal rather than human - an offering perhaps.

            A second vessel in this group was possibly a flagon. These vessels may be part of the neighbouring group (23).

30        Urn of form derived from immigrants from the continent with bulges forced out at the maximum diameter. Between the bulges dots and lines were inscribed.. It was rescued undamaged and was covered and protected by an inverted bowl also undamaged. The urn was a pale grey and the bowl covered in a mid-red slip identified as Oxfordshire ware. Because of its condition and unusual form it was reported at once by Prof Myers.

42        Samian dish (form 18/31) with illegible illiterate stamp thought originally to be AESTIVVS of Lezoux and also recorded in Colchester.

This page was added by Peter Benians on 23/02/2013.