Fredricks Plain

Illustrated Specimens

Potsherds (top row), Vessel 5, Vessel 10, Vessel 15, Vessel 19, Vessel 20, Vessel 23, Vessel 29, and Vessel 30.

Sample Size

N=1,202 (including two whole vessels and five vessel sections).


1,198 specimens from Occaneechi features, four specimens from Feature 30 (Haw River phase).


Method of Manufacture: The presence of thickened basal sherds and other sherds displaying coil seam fractures indicate that most vessels were constructed by applying thin annular strips of clay to a basal plate. In addition, a small number of hand-modeled sherds and two small hand-modeled vessels also were recovered.

Temper: Sherds are tempered predominantly with fine sand (84.0%). Other tempering materials that were incorporated into the potters' paste include coarse crushed feldspar (2.0%), fine crushed feldspar (6.0%), crushed quartz (4.0%), and mixed feldspar and crushed quartz (4.0%).

Texture: Texture is generally even and compact. Temper particles comprise 10% to 30% of the paste.

Hardness: 2.5-3.5.

Color: Exterior surface color ranges from black (7.5YR 2/0) to very pale brown (10YR 8/4) to pink (7.5YR 8/2). Most sherds have generally light exteriors and black firing clouds are common. Interior surfaces also exhibit the same range of colors.

Surface Finish (Exterior)

The exterior surface has been smoothed, obliterating evidence of previous stamping. Although the majority of sherds in the Occaneechi feature sample are uniformly smoothed, about one third (n=400) have exteriors that were only roughly smoothed. Conversely, three of the four sherds from Feature 30 have roughly smoothed exteriors.

Surface Finish (Interior)

Over 98.0% of the sherds in the Occaneechi feature sample have smoothed interiors, whereas three of the four plain sherds from Feature 30 were scraped on the interior surface. None of the vessels and vessel sections exhibit any evidence of smudging or sooting.


Decoration of plain vessels was rare, being represented by only 17 sherds. Modes of decoration include: oblique incisions along the vessel lip (30.8%), V-shaped notches along the lip (23.1%), incised V's along the vessel neck (7.7%), and V-shaped notches along the lip/rim edge (3.9%). In addition, one neck sherd and eight body sherds have drill holes indicative of attempts to mend cracked vessels and thus to extend their use life.

Form (click to see vessel profiles)

Rim: Of the 131 rimsherds recovered, 106 are of sufficient size to determine parent vessel rim morphology. The majority represent jars with either simple everted (81.1%), everted and folded (2.8%), or straight (9.4%) rims. Only a few sherds were recovered which represent bowls with simple inverted (5.7%) or carinated (0.9%) rims.

Lip: Most lip profiles are either straight-sided and rounded (48.9%) or straight-sided and flat (39.7%). The remainder are thickened and flat (4.6%), thickened and rounded (2.3%), and pointed (4.6%).

Body: Of the seven reconstructed vessels and vessel sections recovered, five are restricted sub-conoidal to globular jars and two are unrestricted jars.

Base: Slightly pointed to rounded.

Thickness: 2-4 mm (6.4%), 4-6 mm (28.9%), 6-8 mm (51.6%), 8-10 mm (9.9%), >10 mm (2.0%), Indeterminate (1.3%).

Size: Both unrestricted bowls (Vessel 5 and Vessel 15) are small, measuring only 9-10 cm in orifice diameter and 7 cm (n=1) in height. Of the five restricted jars, both hand-modeled vessels (Vessel 10 and Vessel 29) also are small, measuring 11-12 cm in diameter and 11 cm (n=1) in height, while the three coiled vessels (Vessel 19, Vessel 20, and Vessel 30) are substantially larger and measure 18-30 cm in orifice diameter by 20-30 cm in height (estimated). Based on overall physical condition, these latter vessels apparently were used for storage rather than as cooking pots.


Fredricks Plain comprises a major constituent of the pottery assemblage manufactured and used by the Occaneechi at the Fredricks site. This type represents a variety of different forms that probably were functionally distinct, including small jars, large storage jars, and shallow bowls. This latter form apparently was only rarely manufactured. Because of a general lack of carbonized remains or sooting on the sherd and vessel surfaces, it is likely that these vessels normally were not used for cooking. Vessel 30, because of its similarity in form to a cord-marked vessel found in association with it and its dissimilarity to other Fredricks Plain vessels, may represent a different pottery-making tradition.

As with Fredricks Check Stamped, the other dominant type present within the Fredricks ceramic assemblage, Fredricks Plain sherds have not been recognized within sherd collections from other late period sites within the region. Consequently, it is not yet possible to map its spatial distribution beyond the Hillsborough locality. General similarities can be seen in pottery of the Oldtown series, recovered from the historic Upper Saratown site (31Sk1a) and described by Wilson (1983); however, there also are important differences associated with overall morphology and modes of decoration. Hillsboro Plain pottery, associated with the nearby, late prehistoric Wall site, also is distinctively different with respect to morphology and decoration.