Roman pottery


Roman pottery found in the Canterbury area ranges from high quality imported red Samian ware to locally made grey ware.

Samian ware is the type usually thought of as ‘Roman’ pottery. Dishes of fine red clay were shaped in moulds and decorated with impressed patterns by specialist potters in continental Europe. Shiploads of Samian ware were imported to Britain. Some of the ships were wrecked off the south coast. Hundreds of complete pots have been dredged up by fishermen off Whitstable and Herne Bay, and were used for cooking, in particular for a ‘pudding pan pie’. The ‘Pudding Pan’ Samian ware comes from at least three Roman shipwrecks and has travelled around the world with emigrants.

Other fine wares were imported from France and Germany. Beakers from the Picardy region in north-west Gaul were found at excavations in St Mary’s and Castle Street in 1927. A two-handled flagon, probably from the Rhineland, was found in the nineteenth century.

Archaeologists have discovered kilns on the outskirts of Roman Canterbury, near the sources of clay, water and firewood. A range of cooking wares was made there, as well as roof and floor tiles. Pottery making flourished during the first and second centuries AD. The local potters worked in Roman styles for Roman methods of preparing and cooling food, and for lighting the home. A rare wine or water cooler found at the Dane John site of a Roman kiln is a type made in Cologne and may have been intended for copying.

Large bowl made by Licinus, AD 40-50, found at 47 Burgate, Canterbury on display at Canterbury Roman Museum

Large bowl made by Licinus, AD 40-50, found at 47 Burgate, Canterbury

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Opening Times 

Monday to Sunday 10am to 5pm. Christmas eve and New Years eve closing at 4pm. Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day.


How to find us

Canterbury Roman Museum
Butchery Lane, CT1 2JR

The impressive pillared entrance is in Butchery Lane and very close to the cathedral. Access to the Roman level via lift, then level access throughout museum.

Phone: 01227 785575



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