Barbican Research Associates

                    providing an integrated post-excavation service for the archaeological community



About - Stephanie Rátkai


Research Interests

I work mainly with the ceramics of the post-Roman to post-medieval periods (c 450-1800). from the historic  counties of the West Midlands (Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and West Midlands). More recently I have worked on sites in Gloucestershire. My work has included urban and rural sites, castles and ecclesiastical sites and industrial and domestic assemblages. All told I am the author of over 100 reports which can be found in monographs, county journals and grey literature. I am the main specialist working in the area and have developed many of the fabric type series, particularly for Warwickshire and South Staffordshire.


More recently I have been involved with project management and have managed our Wigmore  and  Weoley Castle projects. From 2013 until early 2017 I managed and also undertook the transfer of Birmingham Archaeology's grey literature reports and associated digital data, such as GIS and photographs, to a secure and accessible home at the Archaeology Data Service, University of York. This too was a Barbican project sponsored by English Heritage.


I now also do an increasing amount of academic editing and the integration of specialist reports such as in The Bull Ring Uncovered. From January 2020 I have been the co-editor of Medieval Ceramics, the journal of the Medieval and Later Pottery Research Group. As co-editor I am also a member of the MLPRG Council.


I am particularly interested in the use of material culture to inform and expand our knowledge of the everyday life of ordinary people and feel strongly that the full potential of archaeological (and historical) data sets are only realised when they are fully integrated with each other.  This approach is exemplified by the final two chapters of the Wigmore Castle monograph.


Recent and current work has provided sometimes unexpected evidence of pottery production sites, and there have also been more than usual numbers of pottery finds from Continental Europe. My most recent projects have derived from HS2, and from the upsurge in development in Coventry, as well as development in rural areas. Since 2019, I have reported on a large Saxo-Norman pottery production site in Haresfield on the outskirts of Gloucester and assessed pottery from a large moated site in Warwickshire. I have also identified pottery production waste in Coventry and the possible area of its manufacture. The most exciting current project is the residue analysis (by the University of Bristol) of skillets from a cache  found at Combe Abbey, which I first reported on in 2008. The analysis is partially completed and confirms that internally glazed vessels can yield good lipid results. The full analysis will be published in due course.




I have some practical experience working as a field archaeologist on seasonal excavations at Okehampton Castle, Devon, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, Dudley Castle, West Midlands  and worked as a volunteer at the Bowes Museum, Co Durham.


In the summer of 1983, I was Archive Assistant at the Western Archaeological Trust (Bristol). From October 1983 to April 1997 I worked as a finds and medieval pottery officer for the archaeological divisions of various councils and museums in the West Midlands such as Warwickshire Museum, Dudley Borough Council, Stafford Borough Council and the Hereford and Worcester County Council. During this time I occasionally worked as a freelance specialist. From 1997-2021, I was a self-employed pottery specialist in partnership with fellow Barbican director Jeremy Evans. As  a result of the partnership I have worked with Jerry on Roman pottery reports for Binchester, Walton-le-Dale, Lancaster and Worcester (Magistrate's Court), which has given me a working knowledge of Roman ceramics.


I have a pottery / work Facebook page - Stephanie Ratkai Sherd Experience which I hope to augment with a website that will make information about pottery of the West Midlands region freely available. Setting up the website is scheduled for July 2022. A full list of my publications will be available there.




University of Birmingham: BA Hons, Classics (1).




I have been a member of the Medieval and Later Pottery Research Group, for over 30 years and I am now a MLPRG Council member. I belong to CeSMA (Centre for the Study of the Middle Ages University of Birmingham). I am a member of the Staffordshire Archaeological and Historical Society and the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society, and was a committee member (2008-12, 2018-19) and President (2013-2017) of the latter. I was an Honorary Research Assistant, at the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, University of Birmingham until 2017 and a member of the Steering Group for the Archaeological Frameworks for the West Midlands.



Selected publications

Rátkai S. 2022. Burton Dassett Southend Part 2 Section 8.1 'The Medieval pottery', English Heritage ADS Collection 3886. DOI


Rátkai S. 2020. 'The Pottery', 50-76, and 'General discussion' (with John Hunt), 115-132, in J.Hunt, 'Lichfield's Medieval urban growth: excavations at 15 Sandford Street and in Bird Street' Staffordshire Archaeological and Historical Society 51, 21-140.


Rátkai S. and Forster, A. 2020. Life Work and Death in Birmingham AD 1100-1900, Birmingham Archaeology Report 2008 (updated 2017 and 2020): ADS collection 2857 DOI


Rátkai S.  2015. Wigmore Castle, North Herefordshire: Excavations 1996 and 1997  Soc Med Arch Monogr Series 34.


Rátkai S. 2015. 'Pottery found in the garden', in M. Page (ed.) The Reader's House, Ludlow: The Report of a comprehensive study carried out in 2009-2012, 75-92. Electronic version see here


Rátkai S. 2014. Medieval and post medieval pottery', in N.J. West and N. Palmer Haughmond Abbey: excavation of a 12th century cloister in its historical and landscape setting, English Heritage, 276-94.


Rátkai S. 2013 in Colls, K and Mitchell, W. A Cycle of Recession and Recovery AD 1200-1900: archaeological investigations at Much Park Street, Coventry, 2007-2010, BAR British Series 582


Linnane S.J., Morriss R.K.,  Mould, Q. and Rátkai, S. 2011. An Archaeological Overview of Weoley Castle, Birmingham. ADS Collection: 1112 DOI:


Rátkai, S., 2011. 'Tanning and Related Industries in Birmingham, 1200-1800', in R. Thomson and Q. Mould (eds) Leather Tanneries: The Archaeological Evidence. Archaeotype, Exeter, 131-152.


Rátkai, S. 2010. Pottery (78-87) in K. Colls, 'The Avon Floodplain at Bristol: Excavations at Templar House, Temple Way in Bristol 2004 and 2005' Trans of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeol. Soc. 128, 73-120 (this deals with pot waste and  sugar refining).


Rátkai, S. 2010. 'The pottery', in C. Hewitson, E. Ramsey, M. Shaw, M. Hislop and R. Cuttler, The Great Hall, Wolverhampton: Elizabethan mansion to Victorian Workshop, BAR British Series 517, 33-60


Cuttler, R,. Hunt, J. and Rátkai, S. 2009.   'Saxon Burh and Royal Castle: Rethinking Early Urban Space in Stafford', S Staffs Transactions 39-85, (The pottery 54-63).


Patrick, C. and  Rátkai, S. 2009. The Bull Ring Uncovered: Excavations at Edgbaston  Street, Moor Street, Park Street and The Row, Birmingham City Centre 1997-2001, Oxbow.


Rátkai, S. 2008. 'Medieval pottery (various sites)', in A.B. Powell, P. Booth, A.P. Fitzpatrick and A.D. Crockett, The Archaeology of the M6 Toll, 2000-2003, Oxford Wessex Archaeology Monograph 2, 386-9, 407-414.


Rátkai, S. 2007.  'The medieval and early post-medieval pottery', in I Soden (ed)  Stafford Castle: Survey, Excavation and Research 1978-1998; Volume II - The Excavations 1978-1991. Stafford Borough Council.



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