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The following is a basic introduction to pottery in archaeology, focusing particularly on the ceramics of the medieval period. The bibliography at the end provides references to more detailed and comprehensive sources.
Small fragments of pottery, known as sherds or potsherds, are collected on most archaeological sites. Occasionally whole vessels are found, particularly where they have been used as grave goods or cremation 'urns'. These are important in providing us with a type series of vessel forms, although broken vessels can be just as useful for this.
In Britain, pottery was made from the Neolithic (New Stone Age) period onwards, although some parts of the British Isles were aceramic (did not produce pottery) at various points in time.