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Potters are very rarely mentioned in documentary evidence before the Late Medieval period, and were probably some of the lowest-status craftsmen.
There is no direct evidence for type of wheels in use before the 13th century, after which a few illustrations survive.
The study of pottery is an important branch of archaeology.
This is because pottery is: Small fragments of pottery, known as sherds or potsherds, are collected on most archaeological sites.
Occasionally whole vessels are found, particularly where they have been used as grave goods or cremation 'urns'.
These are important in providing us with a type series of vessel forms, although broken vessels can be just as useful for this. The clay from which it is made often contains pieces of burnt flint or other stone and the pottery appears very coarse.
Early Saxon pottery (5th to 7th century) was handmade, often locally produced and fired in clamps or bonfires.
Middle Saxon pottery in East Anglia and Northumbria was made on a slow wheel, but elsewhere in Britain it was still handmade.
It was a family industry, continuing through generations.
Clay pits were usually dug quite close to the kiln, on the peasant's croft or common.
Similarly, there is little evidence for tools used. were probably employed, but these would be difficult to distinguish from domestic ones.
Also, specialized antler and bone tools and stamps were used to decorate pottery, and a few of these have been found.The following is a basic introduction to pottery in archaeology, focusing particularly on the ceramics of the medieval period.