17. The Statistics

We isolated all the sherds from bottles which came filled from the Apollinaris spring from other stonewares, whether they carried the recognisable whole Apollinaris spring stamp (total 12) or partial stamps (total 86) or were blank. This was possible from accumulated experience of Apollinaris fabric recognition.

Also the weight and several measurements of many parts of the fabric of whole bottles and a number of sherds were recorded. This served to demonstrate that there were variables between individual bottles in every respect. This was probably to do with the very large number of different bottle-makers (and factories) in the Westerwald where they were made and to an unknown extent, possibly due to changes over time. The point was made clearly whichever aspect one inspected or measured, even between those of the same colour or stamped with the same letter. The necks demonstrated these differences most visibly.

17.1 Number and letter combinations

As introduced above the letter and number stamps on the bottles or sherds we found were as follows: two were stamped with ‘J’, one combined with 7 and one with no number; one bottle with ‘M’ and 23; 20 stamped with ‘N’ including two possible ‘N’s. They were combined with 9 (two), 13 (two, of which one was only possible), 23, 41, 91, 92 (two), 97 (five), and six without a number. There were eight stamped with ‘O’, although one was only a possible ‘O’; one was combined with number 10, two with 15 and two possible 15s, one each with 16 and 18 and one with no number. Two sherds were stamped ‘P’ and 22. Three sherds had no letter, but two had 9, another 95. The larger number of ‘Ns’ particularly combined with ‘9’ or ‘97’ was curious, but once more it may signify batches of bottles imported at any one time. See table 1 above.

17.2 Height and weight

The height and weight of the 6 ‘whole’ 1 litre bottles (two had missing handles) varied slightly (see table 3). The mean height from below base to the top of the bottle was 302mm (with a range of 295mm to 310mm). They all weighed over 1kg, but there was some variation: 1,094gr to 1,313gr (mean 1200 gr). The one half-size bottle (or ‘baby polly’ for 500mls) had a height of 206mm from base to shoulder and 236mm from base to top; it weighed 710gr.

Type Height base to shoulder (mm) Height base to top (mm) Weight (g)
Whole 275 295 1194
Whole 280 310 1302
Whole 275 310 1313
Whole 270 294 1151
Whole 275 305 1146
Whole 265 298 1094
Baby 206 236 710

Table 3 Height and weight of six whole 1 litre Apollinaris bottles and one 'baby polly' half litre bottle

17.3 Glaze colour samples

Initially when we began to work on the Apollinaris sherds we hoped it would be possible to distinguish matching sherds, based on the exterior and interior sherd colour and put together those from each individual bottle to find the total number of bottles in the assemblage. One hundred and fifty-five numbered glaze colour samples were eventually created up to 2016, including the whole bottles. Samples included sherds which seemed to match or at least were very close in colour; with more time and space it might have been possible to create more. Only sixteen of the glaze samples were of matching sherds which could be glued together.

17.4 Variable fabric thickness

Initially the thickness of the bottle sherd fabric was measured on a sample of five broken body sherds from different bottles using a sliding caliper. There was a difference in thickness at several points both within the same bottle and between the sherds. The range was 5.9 – 7.8mm (n = 5).

This was followed with work on a larger sample using measurements taken from what was probably the most uniform point on every bottle, 2mm above the join-line of the base with the body. This sample consisted of 26 broken body sherds still attached to base sherds, where the join-line was clearly marked (see table 4). The total number of possible measurements was 45; in 19 bottles it was possible to take two measurements per sherd, in 7 bottles only one. The range of fabric thickness in this sample was from 6 to 9mm, a difference which was clearly visible; the mean was 7.22 mm (n = 45).

However, in the same bottle the variation might range from as little as nothing (in three instances) to 1.8mm, which was scarcely perceptible. It seems that while the thickness of the bodies was variable between bottles, within one bottle there was near uniformity. This could indicate that most were created in a bottle former, but that several formers were used, perhaps in different places.

Bottle origin 1st measurement (mm) 2nd measurement (mm) 
C3 trench 1 7.1 7
C3 trench 1 6.5 7.5
C3 trench 1 6.9 7
C3 trench 1 9 8.2
C3 trench 1 7.2  
C3 trench 1 6.5 6.2
C3 trench 1 7.2  
C3 trench 1 6.8 6.1
C3 trench 1 8.5  
C3 trench 1 6.2 6
C3 trench 1 7.1  
C3 trench 1 7.2 6.2
C3 trench 1 8.1  
C3 trench 1 9 7.2
C3 trench 1 8.2 8.9
C3 trench 1 7.5 7
C3 trench 1 6.5 6.5
C3 trench 1 8 8
C3 trench 1 7  
C3 trench 1 6.5 7.3
C3 trench 2  6 6.9
C3 trench 4 6.6  
C3 trench 5  6.9 7.9
C3 trench 5  8.5 9
C3 trench 5  6.5 6.5
C3 trench 5  7.1 7

Table 4 Thickness in mm of body fabric from a sample of 26 broken bottle sherds, measured 2mm above the join between the base and body of the bottle

17.5 Bases

Measurement of the diameter of the bases was also carried out to see if differences existed. The sample size was 27 bases, using the six whole one litre bottles, plus five complete bases (one was repaired) and 16 broken bases which were complete enough for the diameter to be measured. The range was 80.7 to 86.9mm, the mean diameter 84.56mm, (n = 27). The difference between them was noticeable but not enormous. See table 5.

Bottle marking Diameter (mm)
9 N 84
9 N 84
9 N  85.5
41 N 83.5
97 N 80.7
97 N  85.5
15 O 86.5
15 O 85
18 O  85
9P 88
17 no letter  86.5
 no no. N 85.5
40 82
42 82.2
46 81
76 84
82 84.5
86 84
117 83
131 83.5
None 84.9
None 85.4
None 86.9
None 84
None 85.5
None 86.2
None 86.4

Table 5 Base diameters of bottles or bottle sherds, measured on line of join of body with base

It was also possible to measure the thickness of the fabric of several bases broken across, where more often than not it seemed that the centres of the bases were thinner than the edges (see table 6). Out of 24 bases broken across, 54 measurements of base thickness were possible, sometimes in three places, two at each edge and one in the centre. At the edges the range was from 5.2 – 10.1mm; in the centre from 5 – 10mm. The mean thickness of the edge was 7.36 mm (n = 37), the centres 6.88mm (n = 17).

Bottle origin edge 1 (mm)   edge 2 (mm) centres (mm) 
C3 trench 1 8.5 6.8 5
C3 trench 1 7.1   7.5
C3 trench 1 6.5    
C3 trench 1 5.6 6.5 5
C3 trench 1 7.8 8 7.1
C3 trench 1 6.1    
C3 trench 1 8 8.5 7.6
C3 trench 1 6.1    
C3 trench 1 7.5 7 5.5
C3 trench 1 6    
C3 trench 1 8    
C3 trench 1 6.5 6.2 5.9
C3 trench 1 7.5   7.5
C3 trench 1 6 5.2 6
C3 trench 1 10.1 9.5 9.5
C3 trench 1 5.5 6 6.5
C3 trench 1 7 6 5.5
C3 trench 1 8.2   8.2
C3 trench 2  8.9 8.5 6.1
C3 trench 4 9 9 8
C3 trench 4 8.5 8.1  
C3 trench 5  8.5   10
C3 trench 5  8    
C3 trench 5  6   6.1

Table 6 Base edge thickness and comparison of edges with central thickness where possible

This did not shed light on the method of addition of the bottle bases to the bodies, which remains uncertain. The bases could either have been pressed into a circular mould or perhaps cut from a sheet of clay by a circular cutter, similar to a pastry-cutter. It was noticeable that the interior of each base consisted of rough pieces of excess clay close to where it had been joined to the body. The exterior vertical face of the base consisted usually of a smooth band, but unlike the handles, this was not obviously smoothed with fingers. The bases could have been added by hand or a machine, but there were no positive signs to prove either.

17.6 Bottle rims and Bottle-necks

Bottle-tops were designed to be capped as it was very important to keep the effervescent level intact. This was a challenge to the bottle-maker.

Amongst the 44 Apollinaris bottle-necks in our assemblage, 38 could be measured in one or more aspects including 16 whole and 22 partial necks (see table 7). Variation in all their measurements between bottles abounded, beginning with the height of the neck when measured from the joint with the body to the top of the rim. The range was from 2.7 to 3.9cm, but the mean was only 3.1cm (n = 23).

number of rings Area covered by rings (mm) Whole or part Rim depth (mm) Bore diam (mm)
0 0 whole 4 15.1
0 0 whole 5.1 15.6
0 0 whole 4.5 n.p.
0 0 part 4.5 n.p.
0 0 part 4.5 n.p.
0 0 part 5 n.p.
0 0 part 6.6 n.p.
2 4.4 part 11 19
2 ?3 n.p. part n.p. n.p.
2 5.6 part  n.p. n.p.
2 5.9 whole 5 19.5
2 5.1 whole 4 28.1
3 7.9 whole 6 20.5
3 8.1 part 10.2 n.p.
3 9.1 part 7.9 n.p.
3 4.4 part 6.1 n.p.
3 9 part 6.9 n.p.
3 7 whole 9.5 20.5
3 5.5 whole 7.5 19.1
3 8 whole 8 19
3 8.5 part 8 n.p.
3 7.1 part 9.1 n.p.
3 8.5 part 8.9 n.p.
3 7.2 whole 5.1 n.p.
3 7 part 5.6 18.5
3 8 whole 7.9 18.4
3 8 whole 7.1 19.5
3 8.3 part 8 n.p.
3 7.6 part 8.1 n.p.
3 6.2 part 7 n.p.
3 7.4 part n.p. n.p.
3 6.5 whole 8.5 18.4
3 6.1 whole 8 19.6
3 7 whole 9.5 20.5
3 8.1 whole 8.5 18.7
3 9.5 part 8 n.p.
3 7 part 8 n.p.
3 7 part 10 n.p.

Table 7 Measurements of Apollinaris botttle rims and necks

Below the rim some bottle-necks were quite smooth, others were encircled by two or three horizontal rings.

Seven had a rim and no rings; amongst these the rim depth varied between 4 and 6.6mm, the mean was 4.89mm. The two whole examples in this group had bore diameters of 15.1mm and 15.6mm.

Four (possibly five, but a metal cap still covered one), necks had just two rings. Only three rims on these were complete and could be measured; they showed more variation in depth than the necks without rings and measured 4, 5 and 11mm respectively. The distance between the top and the bottom ring varied between 4.4 and 5.9mm. The bore diameter could be measured on three of these and varied between 19 and 28.1mm.

The majority of the bottle necks (26 of the measurable examples) had three rings. The study of the three-ringed bottle necks was begun in 1996 by a member of our early BARG team, the late Gwen Parker using 23 samples. Later this was continued in my own more recent work using an expanded sample of 26 bottle necks. The depth of the top rim was measurable in 25 examples and varied between 5.1 – 10.2mm, with a mean of 7.9mm. Six of these rims measured exactly 8mm.

Gwen also measured the distances between the base of the rim and the bottom of the lowest ring; the range of which was 9 – 14mm and the mean 10.45mm (n = 23). Secondly she measured between the bottom of the lowest ring and the circular line where the neck joined the body of the bottle. The range was 5 – 14mm, the mean 9.95mm (n = 23).

Using the 26 samples from my recent work the distance between the top and bottom ring was measured and varied from 4.4 to 9.5mm; the mean was 7.46mm. Five examples measured exactly 7mm. In the same sample the measurement of the space between each of the three neck-rings varied from 3mm to 7mm. One neck had the block of three rings much closer to the rim than all the others.

The measurement of the bore of the necks with three rings ranged widely from 18.4 to 20.5mm with a mean of 19.33mm (n = 11). Three samples measured 20.5mm, two were 19.5 or 19.6mm and three were 18.4 or 18.5mm.

It was possible to measure the diameter of the base of the neck on 18 samples. Taking the ringless, two and three ring necks together, the range was 29 to 33.6mm and the mean 31.9mm.

17.7 Conclusions

After looking at all these differences between Apollinaris bottles, during the period of importation into Britain at least, it seems that strict guidelines in their making for the Apollinaris Spring were not applied. But stoneware bottle-making was probably still wide-spread across the Westerwald; they were made for one use only and providing the bottles when sealed retained the effervescence of the mineral water, that was all that was required.

The answers about exactly how they were made is, as it always seems with Apollinaris bottles, slightly elusive.