Find of the week: Prehistoric coarse pottery

Find of the week: Prehistoric coarse pottery

For the last month we’ve been hard at work digging a Middle Bronze Age roundhouse on Slievemore. Much of our work has been spent uncovering the fascinating series of features around the east-facing doorway of the  building. Apart from a handful of lithics (stone tools) from one of our deep sondages the site has yielded little in the way of finds. This in itself is not strange. Bronze Age roundhouses are often finds poor and  archaeologists argue that they may have been deliberately cleared at the end of their lives/abandonment. Last week we uncovered what is perhaps the most exciting find of our 2017 season: a large chunk of prehistoric pottery. The pottery was tucked into the corner of a wall under some packing stones. The piece is a rim sherd of thick undecorated coarse pottery. It is hand-built, about 145mm thick, and the outside has a smoothed covering of slip. The rim is thick and slightly everted or inward leaning. The sherd belongs to quite a big pot—it would have been originally about 36cm in diameter and was probably a storage urn.

This kind of pottery is fairly typical of the Middle and Late Bronze Age. In the Early Bronze Age Ireland had a number of highly decorated ceramic styles that lasted from c.2100 BC to 1500 BC (Waddell 2010, 171). From c.1500 onwards coarse undecorated pottery predominates. Although it’s not possible to give an exact date to our pottery it sits well with the general Middle Bronze Age date for our building of c.1409—1229 BC.

  • J. Waddell. 2010. The Prehistoric Archaeology of Ireland. Wordwell.