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Blog: digitising 2,000 year old New Forest pottery

Blog: digitising 2,000 year old New Forest pottery


Hi, I’m Hannah, an A level student who recently volunteered for the New Forest National Park Authority.

For my work placement I was offered a rare experience – travelling to the British Museum Store Rooms in London to take photos of Roman pottery found in the New Forest over 100 years ago.

A photo of Hannah Makin at the British Museum

I went there with Lawrence Shaw, the National Park’s Archaeological Officer, and photographer David Wheeler. I helped out by working on managing the social media accounts to record the visit.

We had the privilege of taking photos of the first 13 Roman pots found in the New Forest. They were discovered at Crock Hill near Fritham during the 19th century.

These artefacts date back to around AD260-370. Each pot was exquisitely decorated and preserved so well in the soils that you could see indentations and even the potter’s fingerprints. The amount of decoration showed that these beakers and flasks weren’t everyday ware, but used for special occasions. They varied in colour from pale yellow/red to reddish brown and almost black with a granular texture. You could even see the ‘slip’ wash which they painted on after the original clay.

The photos were being taken in order for us to create 3D models on the computer so they’re accessible to more people and so you can explore them for yourselves.


We gently placed each pot on a turntable with a white background and lights to ensure good quality images. The turntable had targets on it so the computer software we later uploaded the photos into could easily figure out the shape of the artefact and create the 3D model.  We took photos across a transect to ensure we captured every part of the object on camera which would be joined together on the computer.

After the day in London I went back to the National Park offices to edit the fascinating photos we took. We needed to make sure the backgrounds of the photos (apart from the pot and turntable) were blackened, so the computer software didn’t get confused by changes in the background.

I really enjoyed finding out about these rare objects. I was fascinated at how they have survived for so many years in such good condition and largely intact. And so I am now considering further education in this field.

If you’re as interested in this subject as I am, take a look at these links to find out more:

Excavation of Roman pottery kiln in New Forest

New Forest Roman pottery

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