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The British Isles has large and diverse areas of clay that are suitable to make pottery. Broadly speaking, the area diagonally south of York and down to Cheshire has in various places clay deposits that are close to the surface. This enabled people from much, much earlier times and up to the Viking period to dig clay for pottery without having to go too deep. Clay is very heavy, and difficult to dig out. The rest of Britain by and large had to make do with 'costly' imports that could have come from a few miles down the road, or possibly several days travel away. Their only other alternatives were wooden vessels, or in other more remote areas, 'soft' soap-stone containers.
''Original article by Ben Levick, 1993<br>Revised by Rolland Williamson, 2002<br>Illustrations by Colin Levick''