In case you haven’t heard I’m giving a talk in Portesham in January. For more info and to book tickets visit here.

Whilst researching for this event I came across a tale that I thought was worth sharing even though it is not about prehistoric Portesham (I’m not giving away my secrets yet).  it is instead about Roman artefacts found in an 18th century context.

It has been taken from a book published in 1863. The original author, John Hutchins, carried out much of the research prior to his death in 1773. The episode is recorded as happening in 1765.

Some workmen were digging chalk in Corton when they came across several skeletons ‘which lay regularly, side by side, in a direction from north-east to south west’. They were buried with ‘a row of small earthen vessels’, which sound to me as if they were Romano-British. The author states that two of these were red with ‘some sort of characters’ and therefore it was particularly ‘regrettable’ that they were destroyed, one by a workman whilst digging (understandable) whilst the other ‘fell unluckily into the hands of a man who, being without a taste for things of this sort, wantonly made a drinking-cup of it, in consequence of which it is presumed to have been demolished’ (less understandable).

Without a taste indeed. The author makes no mention of what happened to the other vessels although one is drawn in the book and shown below.

WP_20141027_002All quotes and the image taken from The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset by John Hutchins 1861. Edited by Shipp, W. and Hodson, J. W. . 3rd Edition. Published by E.P. Publishing Ltd in Durham in 1861.


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