British Collection Highlights:

Roman Shipwreck at Pudding Pan Rock, Kent

Pudding Pan Rock marks the site of a shipwreck of a Roman vessel that was carrying Samian pottery made in Lezoux (central Gaul) to Britain during the late second century.

The site lies approximately three miles north of Herne Bay in Kent, however the exact location of the wreck is unknown. The results of a survey of the sea-bed indicate that it may lie south of Pudding Pan Sand and 1½ miles north-east of Pudding Pan Rock.

With the passage of time and the shifting seas, the shipwreck has become dispersed over a wide area. Samian ware vessels have been dredged up at intervals all around the coast in that area since the eighteenth century.

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Objects from Pudding Pan Rock (Click to enlarge)

Group of Roman samian ware pottery from Pudding Pan Rock. Including AN1896-1908 R. 332-3; AN1909.1157-60.

Several important discoveries were brought to the notice of the Society of Antiquaries. One discovery by Mr. Reginald A. Smith was reported in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries (Series 2, xxi and xxii). Over 285 samian vessels are known from this site, including 219 which bear the stamps of 37 separate potters. The vessels are datable to AD160-200. In addition to this site, samian ware vessels have been found all over Britain, some as far away as Chester-le-Street, County Durham, Corbridge in Northumberland and York.

Other finds from this site have included a two-handled cup of Lezoux black colour caoted war and a 'mass' of unused tegulae and imbrices, which are now in the British Museum. The finds from Pudding Pan Rock wreck are now widely dispersed with some in the British Museum, the Ashmolean Museum and Swansea as well as local museums in Kent.

Further Information

E. Jacob, 1782, Observations on the Roman Earthen Ware taken from the Pan-Pudding Rock, Archaeologia, Vol 6, pp121-124

G. Keate, 1782, Observations on the Roman Earthen Ware Found in the Sea on the Kent Coast, between Whitstable and Reculver on the Borders of the Isle of Thanet, Archaeologia, Vol 6, pp125-129.

J. Brent, 1861 Some specimens of the Red Roman Ware commonly called Samian, Dredged up off the Coast of Kent, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London, Second Series 1, pp399-401

R.A. Smith, 1907, Wreck on the Pudding-pan Rock, Herne Bay, Kent, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Vol 21, pp268-292.

R.A. Smith, 1909, The Diving Operations on Pudding-pan Rock, Herne Bay, Kent and the Gallo-Roman Red Ware recently recovered from the Rock, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, vol 22, pp395-415.

Romano British Kent, 1932, in Victoria History in the County History of Kent, Vol 3, p165.

M.Dean, 1984, Evidence for Possible Prehistoric and Roman Wrecks in British Waters, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, Vol 13.1, pp78-79.

M. Rhodes, 1989, Roman Pottery Lost en route from the Kiln Site to the User - A Gazetteer, Journal of Roman Pottery Studies, Vol 2, p50.

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Christine Edbury
January 2012