Another of Cath Newman’s charming descriptions of the extraordinary objects to be found at the Museum in the Square and Compass pub, Worth Matravers. Dorset, that is.
SAMIAN WARE FRAGMENTS
Terra Sigillata, otherwise known as Samian Ware, was made in the potteries of Italy and Gaul. It first arrived on these shores during the Iron Age, possibly traded in exchange for hunting dogs and wool, our main exports at the time. But the bulk of fragments found on archaeological sites were most likely transported to these shores as earthenware during the main Roman Conquest of Britain in 43AD; along with thousands of swarthy Italians and their enormous storage containers of wine and olives.
It could have been worse …..
Samian Ware is some of the finest table pottery ever made and is wonderful to behold when unearthed intact. These little fragments give a tantalising taste of upper class Roman living. The highly decorative designs often reflected natural scenes of flora and fauna – some of the pieces in our private collection are decorated with swans, hunting dogs on the chase, stags and hinds. Enough to brighten up your evening meal on a misty, moisty night guarding Hadrian’s Wall.
Many of the clay pipes in the museum were found packed in sawdust in the attic of the Square and Compass. These days, we don’t even sell cigarette papers, but in Charlie’s great grandfather’s era, it was possible to buy a clay pipe over the bar, ready stuffed; the smaller the bowl, the more expensive the tobacco. Local ball clay could well have been used in the manufacture of some of these pipes, although they come from far and wide. One bears the insignia of the 17th Lancers regiment (1759 – 1854) – another is from London, another from Cork. Some were found in rubbish heaps just behind the pub. The ultimate biodegradable disposable pipe!
Crotal bells are beautiful harness embellishments made of pewter or copper alloy and were in common usage between 1500 -1700. (approx.) They were often highly decorated and usually bore the initials of the maker or owner. People’s dependence upon and love of their horses was reflected in the care they took to display them at their best on high days and holidays. The depth of tinkle depends upon the size of the bell. Imagine the jingle coming from a fully decorated horse…
The pulley wheels in the museum were all found washed up between Chapmans Pool and Kimmeridge, remnants of sailing vessels of the 17th and 18th Century, as tough and durable as the sailors who depended upon them to secure rigging and sails. Made of hard woods, they have spent over 300 years in some cases, being pounded and polished by wind and wave.
These silver staters were all minted in Dorset or the Dorset borders and were used by the Durotriges, who inhabited West Hampshire, Dorset and adjoining parts of Somerset and Wiltshire. They are made of silver and have fantastically fresh, chunky and interesting designs such as geometric patterns, starfish, bulls, wolves, and horses. Also in gold… we’re still looking!