The Inclusion and Omission and Sites in the Somertset Levels
There are sometimes considerable difficulties in distinguishing saltings from pottery manufacturing sites in the Somerset Levels. A large number of sites under consideration in the region comprise upstanding or buried mounds (or thick deposits) containing layers of briquettage (i.e. red fired clay} and ash. It is known, from the evidence of waste pottery, that sandy grey wares and black-burnished wares (BB1) were being made in the area, apparently in association with such mounds. In the Dorset pottery-manufacturing sites, BB1 was not fired in kilns, but in surface or near-surface clamps or bonfires (e.g. Ame p. 54), whose traces comprise interleaved layers of red fired clay (briquettage) and ash (i.e. deposits similar to those observed in some of the mounds of the Somerset Levels). Such deposits are, however, also characteristic of salterns, and salt manufacture too is known to have taken place in the Somerset Levels in the Romano-British period. Recently, for the first time, a drawn section and scientific analysis were made for one such buried mound in the Somerset Levels (Leech et al. 1983). It contained briquettage, ash, fired clay bars, pedestals, wedges and slabs, but very little pottery, showing that here such furniture must be connected with salting and not pottery manufacture, as sometimes suggested (Bulleid 1914). Without excavation, therefore, it is impossible to distinguish superficially between those mounds relating to salting processes and those resulting from pottery manufacture. For several mounds, the surface collection of material suggests both activities, though not necessarily conducted simultaneously. All such mounds or buried mounds in the region, except those with a known lack of pottery finds, have therefore been included, although on excavation some may eventually prove to have been connected with salt manufacture alone.
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