Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries 4-2 (April 2013)Annet Nieuwhof: Anglo-Saxon immigration or continuity? Ezinge and the coastal area of the northern Netherlands in the Migration Period.
4. Pottery types and pottery dates

4.2 The 4th and 5th centuries

In the typology of central Groningen, Driesum style pottery is followed by two types: small pots of type K7 and large pots of type G7.[6] Both types are defined on the basis of only a small number of finds. These types are more common in northern Drenthe, where a continuous development of pottery into the 4th and 5th centuries can be recognized (Taayke 1996, V, 180).[7] Together with bowls and dishes, these forms can be considered the indigenous pottery of this period in the northern Netherlands.

Pottery in Anglo-Saxon style is defined here as pottery that comes from, or is inspired by contacts with, the Anglo-Saxon home area. This pottery comprises specific forms such as Schalenurnen and so-called Plettke-types (see below), both usually decorated in Anglo-Saxon style. Decoration in Anglo-Saxon style can also be applied to indigenous forms. Shapes from this period are shown in the right column of fig. 2.

Large pots

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The large, indigenous pots from this period belong to type Dr. G7 (Taayke 1996, II, 25-30 and 57-58). This type consists of well-finished, usually stone-tempered, wide-mouthed pots with more or less S-shaped profiles. As far as known, bases are flat and rather wide. The lower half of the pots is often roughened with a finely textured, coarse slip. G7-pots are usually not decorated, but Anglo-Saxon style motifs do occur. Taayke distinguishes four subtypes, Dr. G7a, -b, -c and -d. They are dated to the 4th as well as the 5th centuries, Dr. G7c into the 6th century (Taayke 1996, II, 58).

Pottery from this period from German cemeteries and settlements was described by Plettke, as early as 1921. Just like the G7-types of the northern Netherlands, S-shaped profiles developed here from the more angular profiles of the Roman Iron Age in the 4th century. In Plettke’s typology, which is still widely used in the Netherlands, these new, wide-mouthed forms are called A4, A5 and A8. This pottery is often, but not always decorated. The difference between various wide-mouthed Plettke-types is not very well defined. As a group, they fall under the definition of G7-pottery (Taayke 1996, II, 58; Schmid 2006, 64). Schmid dates them to the 4th and 5th centuries.

Narrow-mouthed types with round (Plettke types A6 and B2) or biconical (A7) wall profiles develop from this wide-mouthed pottery (Schmid 2006, 63). Schmid dates them to the late 4th century, biconical variants no earlier than the 5th century. Another narrow-mouthed type, 4th century-type ‘Cuxhaven-Galgenberg’, developed from earlier ‘Töpfe der Westerwanna-Typ’ (Schmid 2006, 64), Taayke’s type Ge6, one of the Driesum-style types.


Dr. K4/Gr. K7 (Taayke 1996, II, 39 and 61; III, 34 and 55) comprises well finished, wide-mouthed, shouldered beakers. The neck is concave or straight, the rim is usually rounded and sometimes thickened. Bases can be flat or raised and protruding. Decorated and undecorated beakers occur; decoration is often found on or under the shoulder, or on the lower, narrow part of the beaker above the foot. Decoration can be in the rather formal style of the middle Roman Iron Age or in the more expressive, Anglo-Saxon style. The type resembles the Trichterpokale of the Feddersen Wierde (Schmid 2006, Taf. 47, 69 and 70). In northern Drenthe, four subtypes are distinguished (Taayke 1996, II; V, Abb. 10). K4a is dated to the late 3rd and the 4th centuries. K4b is inspired by the Rhein-Weser-Germanisches type II as defined by Von Uslar (1938) and dated to the 3rd and 4th centuries (Taayke 1996, II, 61). K4c is dated from the late 3rd until the 5th century. K4d is a younger subtype, dated to the 4th and 5th centuries.

Bowls and dishes

In the middle of the 3rd century, bowls with an inward curving rim appeared in northern Drenthe as well as Groningen (Dr. S5/Gr. S4). Bowls are sometimes decorated or roughened, and may have small knob handles. In northern Drenthe, wide, low dishes with a vertical or slanting wall were in use besides bowls (Dr. S4). Both dishes and bowls were produced until well into the early Middle Ages. Fabric and finishing are the main characteristics that enable dating: through the years, fabrics became coarser (Taayke 1996, II, 62-63).


The wide-mouthed, carinated dishes of this period are known by their German name Schalenurnen. The term Schalenurne is used here for want of good alternatives; they were, however, not necessarily used as urns. Schmid (2006, 59) more neutrally calls them schalenförmige Gefäße. Schalenurnen are typical of the Anglo-Saxon style. Schmid (2006, 59-60) describes three variants. Variants 1 and 2, which are difficult to distinguish, are relatively high, cylindrical pots with a deep carination; variant 3 is wider and has a clearly convex and relatively high lower wall. Most Schalenurnen are decorated. Decoration is located on the shoulder and the wall above it, often almost up to the rim. Schalenurnen are dated from the 4th until the second half of the 5th century by Schmid (2006, 62-63).


A large percentage of the pottery of this period is decorated. The decoration in Anglo-Saxon style consists of horizontal, vertical, slanting and curved grooves, chevrons, horizontal ridges, often with regular impressions, thickened areas, bumps (so-called Buckel), rosettes, stamps, and small or large, round or oval impressions. Besides these common motifs, a large number of rarer decorative elements occur, which might have been inspired by personal preferences of the potter or that possibly had a symbolic meaning. An example is the cruciform, linear impression that sometimes can be found on the base of pots. This motif already occurs on pottery centuries before the Christianisation of north-western Europe and probably has a non-Christian symbolic meaning. Not only rare motifs, but also the more common elements of the Anglo-Saxon style may have had a symbolic meaning for those who made and used it. To what extent decorative motifs can be used to date pottery is not clear.


Dates as presented above are based on associations of pottery types and on associations with other dated objects. They are rather wide, usually spanning two centuries. A number of new radiocarbon dates of pottery in Anglo-Saxon style was provided by Lanting and Van der Plicht (2010, 142; 2012 , fig. 3). These dates are no less wide than the archaeological dates, but they can be used to verify them. The new, calibrated dates mainly fall in the 5th century, some into the early 6th century; most of these dates apply to pottery from the coastal area. The earliest radiocarbon-dated pots in Anglo-Saxon style are from the 4th century (Lanting & Van der Plicht 2010, 142ff; 2012, fig. 3). These early dates belong to the four dated Schalenurnen and to two round, narrow-mouthed pots in Anglo-Saxon style from the small cemeteries near Midlaren-De Bloemert. Radiocarbon dates confirm the archaeological dates of pottery in Anglo-Saxon style. Schalenurnen seem to occur especially in the 4th century and to end already in the early 5th century AD, but the number of dates is rather small.