Britain was part of the Roman Empire for over 300 years, a period when every acre of land had to be exploited in order to support the 50,000-strong army and 50,000-strong civil service required to run the country, as well as sending taxes to Rome. Evidence in Sutton Coldfield of this intensive land use was confirmed by the discovery of traces of a Romano-British farmstead near Langley Mill Farm – this was on marginal land which lay uncultivated for centuries afterwards.

Agricultural produce had to be brought to a market, and in Roman Britain there was usually a market within four miles of the farm. Was there a market in Sutton?- perhaps there was nothing here, no trace a Roman settlement has been found, but then, nothing was known of the Langley Mill Farm site until the preparatory work on the M6 Toll road revealed it. The local government of Roman Britain was based on the former tribal areas; Sutton was on the border between the Cornovii administrative area to the west, with its headquarters at Wroxeter - Wall was in this area - and the Corieltauvi administrative area to the east, centred on Leicester, and including Coleshill.

Trade and industry began to flourish after the Roman conquest, and a surprise discovery of a pottery kiln in a Mere Green back garden in 1987 put Sutton Coldfield on the map of industrial Roman Britain. The pieces of broken pottery found on this site indicated that it was working between 150 and 200 AD, producing pottery of a kind associated with the Cornovii as well as the Corieltauvi. Some pieces of pottery made at the Sutton Coldfield kiln have been found at Roman sites in Wall, Mancetter and Coleshill, showing that it was satisfying a local demand, but an unusual bowl was also being produced of a kind favoured over 100 miles away in the west of England.

In his book Birmingham - the hidden history archaeologist Mike Hodder calls the Roman pottery Birmingham’s first industry; another pottery site had been discovered in Perry Barr in 1959, again in a back garden. Perhaps more sites are yet to be found.

Pieces of pottery made in Sutton Coldfield in the second century A.D.