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.

5. Results

The above overview of the pottery of the 4th and 5th centuries forms the background for the results presented below. The pottery of this period found in Ezinge are presented in some detail, since it has not been published elsewhere. Results from Midlaren-De Bloemert and the Feddersen Wierde are summarized.


Figure 3 Minimum Number of Individuals of pottery from the 4th and the 5th century in Ezinge per type. Only pots represented by rim sherds are included. AS: pottery in Anglo-Saxon style; HS: Hessens-Schortens ware; Dr. refers to types from the northern Drenthe typology and Gr. to the central-Groningen typology defined by Taayke (1996 ).

5.1 Ezinge

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The fragments of 365 individual pots from the 4th and 5th centuries were found in Ezinge. Of these, 255 are represented by rim sherds or complete archaeological profiles (fig. 3). The majority of the pots are of type G7 (n=135), in particular Dr. G7b and Dr. G7c. Pottery in Anglo-Saxon style mainly consists of Schalenurnen (n=27) and narrow-mouthed and unspecified forms (n=28). Some small pots (fig. 4) belong to this latter category; no. 850-3153[11] (fig. 4) is reminiscent of Driesum-style type Gr. K6. Besides G7 and Anglo-Saxon-style pots, 22 Dr. K4-beakers have been found, as well as 16 bowls and dishes (Dr. S4 and S5, fig. 8). Of an additional number of 110 recognizable, decorated wall sherds from this period, another 29 belong to Schalenurnen and seven to large pots in Anglo-Saxon style. Apart from a base with a footring (fig. 4, 1024-352), a small carinated pot with stamp decoration (fig. 4, 1292-4227) and a possible Schalenurne (fig. 6, 681-3275), also with stamp decoration, are in late-Saxon style.

Some exceptional decorations are found on large, decorated pots. No. 162-2577 (fig. 4) is a fragmented pot with several large round Buckel with an engraved cross, which are surrounded by stamps that resemble small hands. Another strongly fragmented, very large pot with a largest diameter of c. 50 cm (fig. 4, 614-2985), is decorated with long, rectangular appliqués on the upper part of the body; all appliqués have different engravings. An engraved cross was found on the base of one large pot (fig. 5, 656-3083).


Figure 4 Pottery in Anglo-Saxon style from Ezinge; large and small forms. (Drawing: author).

Narrow-mouthed pots are rare, as far as the relation between the diameters of the rim and the body of pots can be established. Large, narrow-mouthed biconical pots were not found in Ezinge. The only biconical pots are an atypical narrow-mouthed pot, reminiscent of a Schalenurne (fig. 6, 101-4214), which might come from Schleswig-Holstein (cf. Plettke 1921, 50; Taf. 43, 9-11), and a very small, narrow-mouthed pot with stamp decoration (fig. 4, 1292-4227). A small number of narrow-mouthed pots with handles were made in the tradition of the middle Roman Iron Age Ge6-type. An example is find no. 307 (fig. 5), which consists of two such ‘jugs’ and two G7-fragments.

Schalenurnen are relatively numerous. Fabrics of most Schalenurnen appear quite normal in the total Ezinge assemblage. A small number of them with slightly deviating fabrics and colours may have been imported from elsewhere. All Schalenurnen are decorated, except for two complete, small pots (fig. 6, 695-3206; 1079-3225). Most of the Schalenurnen are decorated with the familiar impressions, chevrons, Buckel, grooves and ribs. A small number of them, conspicuous for their complete archaeological profiles (fig. 6, nos. 113-4213; 213-2044; 213-2045; 546-3569), belong to Schmid’s variant 3; they are only decorated with a zone of simple, horizontal lines above the shoulder.


Figure 5 Pots, mainly of type G7, from Ezinge. (Drawing: author).


Figure 6 Schalenurnen found in Ezinge. (Drawing: author).

Beakers of type Dr. K4 do occur in Ezinge, but in a relatively small number. They form a heterogeneous group (fig. 7), which suggests that they do not belong to the common Ezinge repertoire. Only the Dr. K4b-beakers in Ezinge (fig. 7, 829-4223; 1428-3886) do not seem out of place since they clearly are the successors of Gr. K5b, and sometimes are difficult to distinguish from these earlier beakers. Some of the beakers have decoration in the earlier style of the middle Roman Iron Age (fig. 7, 1428-3886; 221-2027), which suggests a relatively early date. K4d-beakers 185-3373 and 606-1991 (fig. 7) have decoration in typical Anglo-Saxon style. Uncommon beakers, such as K4b-like id. 3935 or K4d-like 744-3165 (fig. 7) might well come from elsewhere. The latter was found with an equally uncommon small cup with an ear (fig. 7, 744-3205). Another uncommon beaker (fig. 7, 361-4226), belonging to the Dr. K4-group, has a series of protrusions on the shoulder, which are decorated with crosses and circles. Of a well-finished beaker with number 257-2047 (fig. 7), only the lower part has survived; it is decorated with horizontal lines and zones of small crescents; similar crescents were also applied to the base of the beaker, in the four quadrants of a triple cross.


Figure 7 Beakers (mainly of subtypes of northern-Drenthe K4) from Ezinge. (Drawing: author).

The pottery finds from Ezinge in this period come from 153 different contexts. This large number makes it possible to examine associated types. Such an overview can be used to say something about the occurrence of different pottery types through time. Table 1 presents an overview of associated pottery types from the 4th and 5th centuries in Ezinge. Hessens-Schortens ware (HS) and some older types from the 3rd century (Gr. Gw6b, K5b and K6) have been included, in order to examine the transition between periods. Besides handmade pottery, imported wheel-thrown pottery found with handmade pottery in contexts from this period has been added, because it might add to our understanding: late Roman ware, in particular late Argonne-terra sigillata and African Red Slip ware (ARS) from Tunesia,[12] both dated to c. AD 400 (Volkers in prep.); terra nigra-like pottery (cf. Van Es 1967), which was found in five datable contexts in Ezinge; and various types of Merovingian wheel-thrown pottery from the Rhineland (e.g. biconical and Wölbwand pots) that occur as from the middle of the 5th century (Thasing & Nieuwhof in prep).

For the interpretation of the data, possibly mixed contexts must be taken into account, as well as the numerical ratio between the types. The possibility of mixed contexts implies that it should not be attempted to read too much into the data. Nevertheless, the picture that arises from Table 1 seems rather consistent and supplements what we know about the pottery of this period.


Table 1 Associated pottery from the 4th and 5th century in finds assemblages with more than one type from Ezinge. Types are in chronological order. Gw6b, K5b and K6 are earlier types from the central Groningen typology, K4, G7, S4 and S5 types are from the typology of northern Drenthe pottery by Taayke (1996 ). AS: pottery in Anglo-Saxon style; HS: Hessens-Schortens ware. Wheel-thrown pottery: Terra nigra-like pottery; late TS: late Argonne and north-African Red Slip ware (ARS); MER: Merovingian wheel-thrown pottery.

Dr. K4b, S4, all G7-subtypes and pottery in Anglo-Saxon style (AS) were all found with Driesum-style types Gr. Gw6b, K5b and K6. The common association suggests that the latter types were used until well into the 4th century, which confirms the dates provided by Taayke (1996, V, Abb. 10). Terra nigra-like pottery was found in three contexts from this period, in two cases with early types, K5b and Dr. K4b. Wheel-thrown pottery in this case is not very useful in establishing a date for the handmade pottery, since the occurrence of this ware is not yet very well known. Associations do confirm the early date for terra nigra-like ware that can be inferred from two other Ezinge contexts, where it was found with pottery from the middle Roman Iron Age. It did probably not occur in the 5th century.

Dishes of type Dr. S4 were mainly found with G7b, G7c and AS and may not have occurred before the 4th century in Ezinge. That also goes for beakers of types Dr. K4a, -c and -d and for bowls of type Dr. S5. AS is so often found with Gr. Gw6b, K5b and K6-types, as well as with Dr. G7- and K4-subtypes, that it may be concluded that in Ezinge, AS was already common in the 4th century. Dr. K4b and G7 and its subtypes are the typological successors of Gr. K5b and Gw6b and demonstrate the continuous development of pottery forms. At the end of the 4th century, K4b had probably disappeared from the repertoire. The occurrence of G7a is almost identical to K4b and may not have been in use any longer. Most other types are mainly associated with each other and often with HS, which came into use at the end of the 5th century. That indicates that they were in use during a large part of the 5th century. Associations with late Argonne-terra sigillata and African Red Slip ware confirm that K4c, K4d, G7b and G7c were still in use in the 5th century. Merovingian wheel-thrown pottery was found associated with G7c, G7d and AS, which shows that these types still occurred in the second half of the 5th century. The finds from Ezinge do not permit a more accurate date of the types from this „period.


Figure 8 Bowls and dishes of northern-Drenthe type S4 (165-1875; 206-2604) and S5 (928-3682) from Ezinge. (Drawing: author).

To properly value the number of pottery finds from this period, it will have to be compared to finds from other periods. The histogram in fig. 9 represents the finds of handmade pottery from all occupation periods, a total Minimum Number of Individuals of over 3200. The histogram shows that the population of Ezinge probably decreased in the course of the Roman Iron Age, and even further in the 4th and 5th century (assuming that the number of pots per household remained the same), but associated pottery types indicate that this decrease was gradual. There are no indications that the population abandoned the terp in the 3rd century, and that people from elsewhere reoccupied the terp in the 5th century. The relatively low number of finds from the long period of the early Middle Ages not necessarily represents a diminishing population, but is caused by changes in the number of pots per household in this period (Verhoeven 2008) and by the location of houses on the terp. In the early Middle Ages, houses were relocated to the sides of the terp (Van Giffen 1936), which were not as intensively excavated as the centre.


Figure 9 Overview of handmade pottery per period (MNI) found in Ezinge. Numbers are based on rim sherds.


Figure 10 Representative selection of pottery from the 4th and 5th century from Midlaren-De Bloemert. Find no. 88A/79 was used as a cremation urn. All other pots are from the settlement. Numbers are excavation find numbers. (Drawing: author).

5.2 Midlaren-De Bloemert

As many as 563 individual pots[13] (based on rim sherds as well as identifiable wall sherds) from the 4th and 5th centuries were found during the excavation of the settlement of Midlaren-De Bloemert (fig. 10; Nieuwhof 2008a; 2011). This assemblage confirms the continuing development of northern Drenthe pottery that was recognized by Taayke (1996, V, 180). The angular forms of the middle Roman Iron Age, with the Driesum-style as latest representative, gradually developed into K4- and G7-forms with S-shaped profiles. Decoration on the pottery of the middle Roman Iron Age is rather formal; it developed into the expressive and curvy decoration of the Anglo-Saxon style, which was applied to indigenous forms, especially beakers. Beakers of types Dr. K4c and -d and large pots of types Dr. G7b, -c and -d are most common. There is a small number of narrow-mouthed vessels in Anglo-Saxon style and Schalenurnen (fig. 10, numbers 796/739; 3816; 88A/79). One fragment of a vessel in late-Anglo-Saxon style was found in Midlaren, with Hessens-Schortens-type pottery (fig. 11).


Figure 11 Finds assemblage (find no. 212) with a sherd in late Anglo-Saxon style (id. 256) and Hessens-Schortens pottery from Midlaren-De Bloemert. Numbers near the sherds are identity numbers. (Drawing: author).

The pottery from the nearby cemeteries differs from the pottery found in the settlement. In the cemeteries, pottery in clearly Anglo-Saxon style is dominant. Lanting and Van der Plicht (2010, 142; 2012, fig. 3) provide dates for a number of these pots. The earliest are dated to the 4th century (fig. 14). One of them, a beautifully decorated Buckelurne (no. 88A/79; fig. 10), was found during the excavation of 2005 (Tuin 2008). The others come from the cemetery that was discovered in 1856. The finds from this cemetery consist of two Schalenurnen and at least fifteen decorated pots of Plettke types B2/A6 and A7 (figs. 12 and 13).

The indigenous development of pottery forms and decoration shows that habitation was continuous in Midlaren. This is confirmed by the number of settlement features from this period (Nicolay 2008b). An overview of the number of pottery finds through time (fig. 15) indicates that the population probably did decrease at the end of the Roman Iron Age, but habitation did not come to an end. In the early Middle Ages, the number of houses and other settlement features does not change; as in Ezinge, the smaller number of pottery finds from this period is undoubtedly caused by a smaller number of pots per household.


Figure 12 Pots in Anglo-Saxon style from a cemetery near Midlaren. 1: 1856/IV.2; 2: 1856/IV.5; 3: 1856/IV.8; 4: 1856/IV.7; 5: 1856/IV.6; 1856/IV.5; 6: 1856/IV.4; 7: 1856/IV.3. (Drawing: Jaap Ypey 1948).


Figure 13 Pots in Anglo-Saxon style from a cemetery near Midlaren. 8: 1856/IV.9; 9: Z.H.v.I.-1; 10: 1856/IV.11; 11: 1856/IV.12; 12: 1856/IV.10; 13: 1856/IV.14; 14: Z.H.v.I.-2; 15: 1856/IV.13. (Drawing: Jaap Ypey 1948).


Figure 14 Radiocarbon dates of cremations from pots in Anglo-Saxon style from cemeteries near Midlaren (figs. 2, 3, 9). Data from Nieuwhof 2008a (88A/79) and Lanting & Van der Plicht 2010 (finds of 1856).

5.3 Feddersen Wierde

Although precise numbers are not mentioned by Schmid (2006), it can be inferred from his figures (Taf. 63-90) that the remains of at least 2571 pots from the 4th and 5th centuries were found on the Feddersen Wierde. Just like in Midlaren, the middle Roman Iron Age Trichterschalen and Trichternäpfe (similar to type Dr. K3) were followed by Trichterpokale (c. type Dr. K4c and –d, see fig. 2). Large pots that resemble Driesum-style pottery (Schmid 2006, Taf. 54) were followed by forms that resemble the G7-forms of northern Drenthe (Schmid 2006, Taf. 78, 87 and 88) and by narrow-mouthed pots (round as well as carinated, decorated and undecorated, see fig. 2). Furthermore, many Schalenurnen occur in this period on the Feddersen Wierde. They are the most numerous category of pottery, followed by narrow-mouthed pots of type Cuxhaven-Galgenberg (Schmid 2006, Taf. 74 and 82).

Hessens-Schortens pottery sensu stricto was not found on the Feddersen Wierde, which demonstrates that this only developed in the late 5th century. However, ‘ovalen bauchigen Kümpfe’ were regular finds in the highest excavation layers. These pots are usually thin-walled and well finished; in the northern Drenthe typology, they belong to types G7c and -d. Their forms remind Schmid (2006, 68) of Plettke’s type D, which might be considered Hessens-Schortens ware. This suggests that also on the Feddersen Wierde, the transition to Hessens-Schortens ware was on its way before the terp was abandoned. Pottery in late-Anglo-Saxon style has not been found on the Feddersen Wierde, in accordance with the end of habitation there in the second half of the 5th century.


Figure 15 Overview of handmade pottery per period (MNI) found in Midlaren-De Bloemert. Numbers are based on rim sherds.