Nottingham Stoneware

by Haley HoffmanArchaeological Field and Lab Technician

As many of you know, here at CART we eat sleep and breath historic ceramics. So when a unique and perplexing piece comes through our doors we are more than intrigued. Recent excavations have uncovered an interesting piece of what we believe to be a variety of Nottingham Stoneware (see picture below). Nottingham was originally produced by James Morely starting in 1700 in, you guessed it, Nottingham, England, and produced later on in other locales like Derbyshire and Staffordshire until around 1810. (FLMNH n.d.) Like other stonewares, it has a hard homogenous body with no inclusions. It typically has a thin grey body but can also be found with buff or orange bodies. What makes Nottingham unique is its brown burnished metal look (MAC Lab 2015). This is achieved by applying an iron based brown-orange wash before the salt glaze (Gallucci 1997). The wash can sometimes totally eliminate any signs of the typical “orange peel” look found on other salt glazed stonewares. In some cases, a thin white slip can be seen beneath the glaze in cross section. Nottingham ceramics can have a wide array of decorative patterns and techniques. Techniques included “incising, press molding, piercing, sprig molding, rouletting and rustication” (MAC Lab 2015). Floral, scroll and armorial motifs were often present as well as simple riling and geometric lines. Rustication techniques such as applied grog, crumb and shavings became more prevalent on Nottingham around the 1750s. (FLMNH n.d.)

Which brings us back to the curious piece of ceramic we have (see picture above). The sherd has a thin, grey vitrified body with a brownish-orange matte exterior. There is no evidence of the typical “orange peel” look and the matte “glaze” looks like it is covered in sporadic metallic sparkles. The sherd’s decoration is even more intriguing. There are six (visible) bands of incised shapes and curved lines (see below).The matte but metallic exterior probably looks the way it does from degradation and the incised scroll motif, however odd, is consistent with the reported decorative techniques.

MAC Lab, 2015. “Nottingham – type.” Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland. Accessed December 11, 2017. http://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/ColonialCeramics/Colonial%20Ware%20Descriptions/Nottingham.html

FLMNH Ceramic. (n.d.). Stoneware, Nottingham – Type Index. Historical Archaeology. Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH). Electronic. https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/histarch/gallery_types/type_index_display.asp?type_name=STONEWARE,%20NOTTINGHAM

Gallucci, Timothy R. 1997. The early American salt-glazed stoneware jug as art and artifact: A critical approach to interpreting the aesthetic meanings and cultural origins of a craft archetype. The Pennsylvania State University.

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CART Bi-Weekly Update

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Projectile Points: Triangle -part II

by Robin RameyCART Assistant Lab Director

Example of a triangle point that was recovered from an archaeological site in Fairfax County.

Types of triangle points found in our area

Archaic

Woodland

Identifying Triangle Point Types

Identifying the characteristics such as those listed above helps archaeologists tie the projectile points they find in the field to larger, regional point typologies. Knowing what “type” of projectile point occurs at a site can help researchers learn what time period the site was occupied, what technology was being utilized there, and sometimes even suggest behavioral patterns of the people who lived there. Unfortunately, when it comes to triangle points in our area, assigning points to specific types can be quite tricky.

One reason that “typing” triangle points can be difficult is because the nomenclature for triangle point types varies regionally across the east coast. So, the same point that a researcher in New York would call a “Levanna” may be identified by a researcher in North Carolina as a “Yadkin.” Further, even within a regional typology the definitions of different types can overlap considerably. For example the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab posits that

“As a general rule of thumb in Maryland, Late Woodland period isosceles points can be classified as Madison, large equilateral points as Levanna, and small equilaterals as Potomac.”

However, the definition of both Levanna and Potomac points state that they too can be isosceles, and the definition of the Madison point type states that some are equilateral. For this reason, many researchers have been reluctant to assign triangle points to specific types, instead lumping them into a single triangle point category (MAC Lab 2012).

Further complicating the task of identifying triangle points is their somewhat disputed chronology. Traditionally, triangle points were thought to be synonymous with the Middle and Late Woodland period (MAC Lab 2012). More recently, however, a growing number of triangle points have been recovered from contexts solidly dated to the earlier Archaic time period (Luckenbach et al 2010). Archaic triangle points have now been located at independent sites across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic as far north as New York and as far south as Maryland. Each discovery—of course—resulted in yet another new type definition, adding to the already arduous process of identifying triangle points. However, the revelation that triangle points were being made in the Archaic period simultaneously made it more important than ever to be able to properly “type” them, as it could no longer be assumed that all types were diagnostic to the same period.

Unluckily for us, the Archaic varieties display many of the same characteristics as the Woodland types. In fact, an in-depth study of the Archaic and Woodland triangle points from Abbott Farm (a well-known Archaic triangle point site) found that it was virtually impossible to distinguish between them at the individual point level (Katz 2000). Thus, archaeologists must rely heavily on context to determine how old a triangle point really is. So when it comes to triangle points, as every archaeologist has said at least once in his or her career: context is everything!

References

Department of Historic Resources.
n.d.       Native American Comparative Collections: Points. http://www.dhr.virginia.gov/arch_DHR/Points/psumm.html, accessed 12/14/2017.

Katz, Gregory M.
2000       Archaic Period Triangular Bifaces in the Middle Atlantic Region: Technological and Functional Considerations. M.A. thesis, Department of Anthropology, Temple University, Philadelphia.

Luckenbach, Al, Jessie Grow, and Shawn Sharpe
2010       Archaic Period Triangular Points from Pig Point, Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology 26:165-180.

Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory
2012       [2002] Projectile Points: Archaic Triangular Points. Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland. https://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/ProjectilePoints/FindingAidsandImagePages/FindingAids/ArchaicTriangularPoints.html, accessed 12/04/17.

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Holidays2017

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Projectile Points:Triangle -part I

by Robin RameyCART Assistant Lab Director

As the name suggests, triangle projectile points are characterized by their, well, triangular shape. Unlike the point types discussed in previous posts (see Another Local Projectile Point: Morrow Mountain, Projectile Points- Contracting Stems, and Projectile Points- Notched), triangle points lack stems and do not display side or corner notches. Researchers, therefore, use other morphological characteristics such as size, overall shape, base shape, and blade curvature to categorize triangle points into types. In addition to morphology, other characteristics such as material type and the presence or absence of basal grinding can help in the identification of triangle point types.

Size

Projectile point length and width are two metric characteristics that help distinguish triangle point types. Length is measured from the base to the tip of the point. Width is measured perpendicular to the length. So, in the case of triangle points, width is measured from one corner of the base to the other. Small triangle points, such as the Clarksville type, can have lengths and widths as small as 10-18cm (DHR n.d.). Larger types, such as Levanna and Yadkin points have average lengths of 38-45mm and average widths of around 30mm (DHR n.d.; MAC Lab 2012).

Shape

Triangular points are generally categorized as either equilateral or isosceles. Equilateral triangle points have a base width that is approximately equal to the length of the edges. Isosceles triangle points have a base width that is smaller than the length of the edges.

Base shape

Triangle point bases fall into two main categories: straight and concave. Straight bases, as the term implies, are relatively straight from corner to corner, curving neither in toward the tip nor out. Concave bases, conversely, curve in toward the tip of the point.

Blade Curvature

The blade, or edges, of triangle points occur in straight, excurvate, and incurvate varieties. Straight blades are relatively straight from the tip of the point to the corner of the base. Excurvate edges curve away from the point’s center line as you move from tip to corner. Oppositely, incurvate edges curve towards the point’s center line as you move from tip to corner.

For information about types of triangle points found in our area and a discussion about the time period in which triangle points were made stay tuned to our blog.

 

References

Department of Historic Resources.
n.d.       Native American Comparative Collections: Points. http://www.dhr.virginia.gov/arch_DHR/Points/psumm.html, accessed 12/14/2017.

Katz, Gregory M.
2000       Archaic Period Triangular Bifaces in the Middle Atlantic Region: Technological and Functional Considerations. M.A. thesis, Department of Anthropology, Temple University, Philadelphia.

Luckenbach, Al, Jessie Grow, and Shawn Sharpe
2010       Archaic Period Triangular Points from Pig Point, Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology 26:165-180.

Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory
2012       [2002] Projectile Points: Archaic Triangular Points. Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland. https://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/ProjectilePoints/FindingAidsandImagePages/FindingAids/ArchaicTriangularPoints.html, accessed 12/04/17.

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CART Lab Holiday Schedule and Winter Weather Protocol

Bundle Up!

Holidays

The office, field and lab are closed on observed county holidays.

The lab will be closed Fri Dec 22nd Tues Dec 26th. Note that the field schedule may be different. Please write the field at cart.volunteers@live.com for information on the field schedule.

Winter Weather

As winter approaches, even our indoor temperatures can be unpredictable. If you are in the lab, please wear warm layers. You may want your coat, hats, scarves just in case. If you will be joining our field crew, please wear clothing appropriate for the weather and contact them at cart.volunteers@live.com for additional suggestions about outdoor gear.

The Archaeology Team prefers everyone live long full happy lives, so in any weather event, please stay off the roads if there is any question of safety regardless of the following protocol.

Winter and the Archaeology Lab:

The Park Authority follows Fairfax County Government closures.

  • If Fairfax County Government is closed: the office and archaeology lab will be closed & any fieldwork suspended.
  • If Fairfax County Government opens late or closes early: the office and archaeology lab will be closed & any fieldwork suspended at the announced time of day.

The lab may close under the following conditions:

  • If Fairfax County Schools open late or are closed: It is possible lab and field volunteering may begin late or be suspended. Please check with us via email when we will be open before coming to volunteer.
  • If Fairfax County Government Employees have the option of “liberal leave”: It is possible lab and field volunteering will be suspended. Please check with us via email when we will be open before coming to volunteer.

There are several websites with pertinent information

Please note Fairfax County Park Authority weather procedure.  Park facilities may still be open and classes still scheduled even when the CART lab is closed.

If you have any questions or concerns or want to check our schedule, please feel free to write us at cartarchlab@live.com  or the field crew at cart.volunteers@live.com

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CART Biweekly

For information on volunteering or to sign up for a New Volunteer Orientation, check out our “Help Us” page. Have questions? Contact us.

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