York Ware Group

Stan South sorts out a Contact Period York ware group to contain ceramics that still carry Chicora ware traits, but which show the effects of European disruption to the societies of the Southeast. This process is illustrated by the tendency for later vessels to be poorly made, and their surface treatments to be sloppily applied.

This tendency is also recognized by DePratter and Judge (1989), in their Daniel Phase pottery, by Joffrey Coe (1995) at Town Creek, and Mike Trinkley with his Wachesaw type (Trinkley 1981). Coe pointed to the careful application of well carved paddles in early phases, while later paddles appeared to have been carved with steel knives in a more haphazard manner. Generally the designs were larger, with wider lands and grooves, and are often over-stamped to the point of obliteration.

South places two wares in the York Group: Ashley and Catawba. The latter name is not generally used as it was not formally defined, and work in the upper Wateree/Catawba River area has not been pursued systematically. This is not the same as historic Catawba trade wares (see Riggs et al 2007) but may be at least partially, a precursor. Upstream David Moore has done considerable work, and devised his own typology, and the same has been done downstream near Camden, where work has been ongoing since the early 1980s.

Ashley wares create a different issue. South considered them a 17th-18th century type because of their association with European trade goods at Charles Towne. In recent work pottery matching his Ashley ware description has been found and dated at a site on Daniel Island (38BK1633; Lansdell 2009: Personal Communication). They have eleven dates between 1460 and 1547 (calibrated median), and only two from the 17th century. South obtained a single carbon date of 1680 (calibrated median).

Likewise Trinkley (et al 1999) obtained a date of 1540 (calibrated by Lansdell, median) for what they called Ashley ware. Trinkley's date, 250+/-40BP (Beta 118433) was interpreted by him as representing an occupation that lasted from the 1640s to 1670s, which showed "the gradual deterioration of the fine complicated stamping practiced only a hundred years earlier" (Trinkley et al 199: 82). Calibrated with Calib 5.1 there are four intercepts for this date at 1541, 1653, 1789, and 1947. This illustrates well the problems we face with empirical dates and their interpretation. Depending on how you interpret them the two earlier intercepts can have a considerably different meaning.

Thus it would appear that not all pottery that can be categorized as Ashley is necessarily a late historic type, but rather fits more into the timeframe proposed for his Charles Towne ware. Again, however, few sites producing Ashley pottery have been excavated and analysis at an advanced level in the future might be able to produce a detailed sequence for these wares.