Term Description
AbradedA term used to describe sherds whose surfaces are worn due to damage by physical or chemical abrasion.
ArcPart of the circumference of a circle or any other curve.
AssemblageA group of pottery or other finds from an archaeological deposit or an archaeological site.
BodyA term used to describe the main part of a vessel between the base and the neck or rim.
BowlA neckless vessel defined as having a height more than one-third of but not greater than its diameter.
CeramicA term used to described clay which has been heated to a temperature sufficient to hardened it permenantly
DepositA term used in archaeology to describe sediments laid down by human or natural activities. Deposits can contain objects including pottery as well as environmental remains such as seeds and pollen.
DishA shallow vessel defined as having a height less than one-third of but greater than one-seventh of its diameter.
FabricThe characteristics of the clay body from which the pottery is made. These characteristics can be divided into those which are a function of the clay matrix; those which are a function of the inclusions added to the matrix and those which are a function of the temperature and conditions during firing.
FillerThis is the material added to the natural clay by the potter. It can be organic material such as grass or minerals such as quartz. It will often be graded in some way before being added. Typically this is referred to as tempering.
FormThe shape of a pottery vessel. In the archaeological literature the terms used to describe the shape of pots are period-specific, and for the correct term it is necessary to consult the various period guidelines: Prehistoric pottery, Roman pottery, Medieval pottery
GlazeA vitreous surface used on pottery. Usually formed by the addition of a special coating before firing.
InclusionThe term used to describe all non-clay materials present in a fired fabric. An inclusion may be naturally occuring or added by the potter.
JarA vessel with a constriction at the neck whose width is usually less than its height.
Malvernian rockSmall fragments of rock deriving from the Malvern Hills which form the border between Worcestershire and Herefordshire.
MedievalThis period falls between the end of the Late Saxon period, AD 1066, and the beginning of the post-medieval period. The date for the end of the medieval period is debated but on this site it is taken to be AD1540.
NeckThis part of a pot is located just below the rim and above the shoulder depending on the form of the vessel.
OxidisationA plentiful supply of oxygen during firing means that iron oxides within the clay will be brought to their highest state of oxidisation and, depending on the amount of iron oxides present, will give a yellow, or more commonly, a red or orange colour to the fired clay.
Post-medievalThis period falls between the end of the medieval period, AD 1540, and the beginning of the modern period, AD 1900.
PrehistoricThe period of human history before the advent of writing. In England this is usually defined as the period before the invasion of Britian in AD 43. Pottery was first produced in the Neolithic period, 4000-2000 BC.
ProvenanceThis term is used to describe the place or area where a particular type of pottery was made.
RedepositionAn archaeological term used to describe a situation where artefacts, such as pottery, have been moved from their original place of depostition/disposal at any later date.
ReductionIf oxygen is not available during the firing carbon monoxide within the kiln will take oxygen from the iron oxides in the clay bodies being fired resulting in the fabric or part of the fabric being dark brown, gey or black in colour. Reduction is a very complex issue. For more detail refer to the glossary in Prehistoric Pottery for the Archaeologist
Romano-BritishThis period comes after the prehistoric period and before the Saxon period (AD 43 to AD 410). It represents the period of direct Roman rule over a large part of what is now mainland Britain.
SaggingThis is an archaeological term usually applied to the bases of vessels which are convex rather than flat.
SaxonThis period falls between the end of Roman rule in Britain, AD 410, and the Norman Conquest, AD 1066. The name derives from European warriors, the Saxons, who invaded Britain around the 5th century A.D. In Worcestershire it is used to refer to changes and developments in culture rather than a change in population.
SherdA broken piece of pottery
ShoulderThe part of a vessel just below the rim and above the main body of the pot.
TypologyThe classification of artefacts into groups (types) on the basis of method of manufacture, form, decoration, date etc.
VesicularWhere inclusions, for example limestone, have dissolved out of the the fabric of the pot during use or burial or, for example with organic material, have been destroyed during firing. This leaves the sherd full of holes especially on the surface.
VesselA complete pot.