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Pottery fabrics


· This table lists the most common fabrics found in the northern frontier region.


· These terms are used in the site tables.


· The full description of the fabrics listed below with letter codes (eg LMV SA) can be found   in R. Tomber and J. Dore 1998 The National Roman Fabric Reference Collection.


· For other references, please see bibliography at end.


Fabric name Code or description
Mortaria i
Brockley Hill  
Catterick CTR WS
Catterick/Crambeck Material that could come from either site
Colchester COL WH
Corbridge COR WH
Crambeck CRA PA, CRA WH
Fisher Street fabric 1 Produced at the kilns in Carlisle
Local Unsourced local products
Lower Nene Valley LNV WH
Mancetter-Hartshill MAH WH
North-east Unsourced local products
North French/ South British  
North-west Unsourced local products
Northern Unsourced local products
Northern France NOG WH 4
Old Penrith fabric 102  
Oxford OXF WH
Raetian/north-east Unsourced local products
Raetian/north-west Unsourced local products
Rhineland RHL WH
South Carlton SOC WH
South of Malton see Mongahan 1997, no. 3404
Verulamium VER WH
Wroxeter cream  
Unsourced Miscellaneous fabrics
Fine wares i
Braives mica-dusted BRA MD
Central Gaulish black slipped CNG BS
Central Gaulish colour-coated 1 CNG CC 1
Central Gaulish colour-coated 2 CNG CC 2
Cologne fine KOL CC
Exeter group 1 'Soft pink to brick-red fabric, frequently with a grey core. Patchy mottled colour-coat varies in colour from reddish-brown to matt black. Roughcasting with clay particles' Holbrook and Bidwell 1991, 83.
Exeter group 4 'Soft fine pink fabric with slightly darker colour-coat. Rough-casting with clay particles' Holbrook and Bidwell 1991, 84
Fine poppy head beaker Soft grey fabric with a soapy feel and dark grey core.
Local brown-slipped Hard oxidised fabric with a smooth chocolate-brown colour-coated, micaceous on exterior surface and few visible inclusions in the core.
Mica-dusted Unsourced wares
Moselkeramik MOS BS
Nene Valley colour coated LNV CC
North Gaulish fabric 1 With roughcast decoration. 'Extremely hard, fine red fabric, in many cases displaying a grey core... The colour-coat is usually blue-black or rarely brown / red and is extremely glossy' Anderson 1980, 28.
North Gaulish fabric 2 With roughcast decoration. 'The colour is often pale orange to buff, very fine and rather soft... The colour-coat varies from pale brown to orange, often with a mottled effect around the rim and base on the interior surface'. Anderson 1980, 33.
North Kent fine ware Fine grey to black fabric with red / brown margins and no visible inclusions.
Oxfordshire red-slipped OXF RS
Terra nigra 1 GAB TN 1
Terra nigra imitation Pale grey fabric with Common white inclusions, voids indicative of organic material. Semi matt black slip and burnished overall. Soapy feel.
Wilderspool red slipped WIL RS
Unsourced fine various fine wares of unknown sources
Coarse wares i
Anaus grey core As COR WH
BB1 (Southeast Dorset) DOR BB 1   IMAGE
BB1 (Southwestern Dorset) DOR BB 1
BB1 (Rossington Bridge) ROS BB 1
Belgic-like / Belgic-like coarse Similar to DOR BB1 moderately hard dark brown / grey fabric with common fine muscovite mica and small quartz inclusions. This fabric is named belgic on qualitative ground as it is closely resembles the fabric from belgic forms, a cultural link should not be assumed.
Blaxton Hard grey fabric with forms similar to those manufactured at Blaxton, near Doncaster.
Brampton gritty oxidised A very pimply, orange fabric, with abundant white quartz inclusions producing a very pimply surface; possibly a Brampton product (possibly also L1 fabric 13, though seperated here due to the density of white quartz making a more pimply surface than North-west gritty oxidised ware).   IMAGE
Brampton gritty reduced A gritty grey fabric, probably a reduced variant of North-west gritty oxidised ware. Pimply surface, slightly micaceous with visible quartz inclusions. (CS fabric 329).
Brown 'varnish' Orange fabric with a brown varnish-like surface.
Calcite gritted CG   IMAGE
Colchester / Colchester oxidised COL WH
Corbridge cream / Corbridge oxidised COR WH
Crambeck reduced CRA RE   IMAGE
Crambeck parchment CRA PA
Dales DAL SH
Derbyshire DER CO
East Anglian micaceous Highly micaceous grey ware.
Ebor 1 EBO OX; Mongahan 1997, 875
Ebor 2 EBO OX; Mongahan 1997, 875
Ebor 3 EBO OX; Mongahan 1997, 875
Ebor red painted EBO; Monaghan 1997, 877
Exeter fabric 81 Hand-made grey-burnished ware. íHard hand-made grey ware with micaceous surfaces but no visible mica plates. Colour varies from light buff to dark grey, but usually with mid-grey exterior surfaces and often with buff exteriorsí. Holbrook and Bidwell 1991, 163.
Exeter fabric 125 'Softish, fairly fine, wheel-thrown grey ware with micaceous surfaces but no visible mica plates. Colour varies from light buff to dark grey, but usually with mid-grey exterior surfaces. The only other visible inclusions are a few scattered small quartz grits' Holbrook and Bidwell, 163.
Exeter fabric 406 Flagon fabric. 'Off-white to pink fabric sometimes with a blue-grey core... Well-made thin-walled vessels usually with a carefully smoothed exterior with many red-brown streaks caused by the smearing of the frequent small ferrous inclusions' Holbrook and Bidwell 1991, 139.
Fine reduced stamped Fine, hard mid to light grey fabric with stamped rosette decoration.
Fine rusticated Fine grey fabric with rusticated decoration.
Fisher Street fabric 1 This fabric is the most common type (60% of all kiln fabrics by weight) and certainly represents the principal fabric produced at the Fisher Street kiln complex. The colour of various pottery vessels ranges from orange / red throughout to dull grey / brown with a faintly dull brown core. The sherds have a finely-irregular break with well-rounded quartz inclusions, of common to sparse frequency, small yellow and dark grey inclusions and occasional ironstone.
Fisher Street fabric 3 Hard grey fabric, light grey in the core and dark grey surfaces and common well-rounded quartz inclusions.
Fisher Street fabric 4 Pale, soft orange / yellow fabric with soft red inclusions and small well-rounded quartz.
Flagon A Dark grey fabric, orange exterior with a cream wash.
Flagon B Orange towards the exterior, grey towards the interior with an oxidised internal surface.
Flagon D Pale orange, fine fabric with a cream wash.
Flagon E Pink fabric, often with very thin orange exterior surface and a cream wash.
Flagon F Very pale orange to interior and cream to exterior.
Flagon G Pipeclay fabric.
Flagon H Hard creamy yellow fabric, pink in the interior with an orange slip on the exterior.
Flagon I Red / brown fine sandy fabric, soft with a thin grey core.
Green silt grey Moderately hard mid-grey ware with common fine amorphous inclusions with a greenish colour.
Grey ware 1 Locally produced second-century ware found in the north-east. Hard grey micaceous fabric with black and opaque white inclusions.   
Grey ware 2 Locally produced second-century ware found in the north-east. Softer than fabric 1, with a gritty fabric with medium-sized angular inclusions.   IMAGE
Grey ware 3 Micaceous grey fabric with scattered large sandstone inclusion.
Grey ware 4 Locally produced second-century ware found in the north-east. Numerous medium-sized, soft black inclusions.
Grey ware 5 Hard light grey fabric with darker core, occassional white inclusions.
Grey ware 6 (133) Sandy light grey fabric, slightly micaceous, with a darker exterior surface. Noticeable rounded black ferrous inclusions up to 3mm across. Usually well-fired.    IMAGE    MORE INFORMATION
Gritty grey Hard grey fabric with common grit inclusions.
Grog-tempered Soft grey or brown fabric with grog inclusions and an uneven surface.
Handmade reduced Soft grey gritty fabric.
Highgate Wood C HGW RE C
Highly burnished black Unsourced black fabric.
Highly micaceous grey Unsourced grey fabric.
IBBA / IBBB Hard dark grey fabrics with smooth surfaces, closely imitating BB1 forms.
Imported white Unsourced fine white fabric.
Indeterminate imported Unsourced oxidised fabric.
Late handmade ware (B18) 'The fabric is not unlike calcite-gritted ware with the deliberate calcite temper omitted' Monaghan 1997, 911.
Late Roman ware (G18) 'G18 is an unburnished equivalent of B18' Mongahan 1997, 911
Late Roman ware (G19) various 'other handmade late Roman or sub-Roman vessels' Monaghan 1997, 912.
Light grey margin Hard fabric, with mid-grey surfaces, light grey margins and darker grey core.
Local fine oxidised Indistinct orange fabric, not sandy, probably of local production.
Local grey Indistinct grey fabric, probably of local production.
Local gritty grey Indistinct grey fabric with gritty (non-quartz) inclusions, probably of local production.
Local gritty oxidosed Indistinct orange fabric with gritty (non-quartz) inclusions, probably of local production.
Local handmade reduced Soft grey / black fabric.
Local oxidised Indistinct orange fabric, probably of local production.
Local traditional hand-made pottery in the indigenous Iron Age tradition. See Bidwell and Croom 2002, 169-70.
Lower Tyne painted oxidised Hard orange fabric with burnished surfaces. Small, common inclusions of angular quartz and occasional soft orange, hard grey, sandstone fragments and some mica. White or cream paint, more rarely sometimes also brown.    MORE INFORMATION
Mustard-coloured oxidised Moderately hard fabric, dirty, mustard yellow exterior with reddish core.
Nene Valley grey Hard fabric with mid-grey surfaces and light grey core.
Nene Valley parchment LNV PA
North Gaulish grey NOG RE
North Gaulish-related grey Mid-grey core, very dark almost black surface, with a slightly rough sandy texture. Not metallic in appearance.
North Gaulish pipeclay NOG WH
North Pennine gritty Grey handmade, mid-grey fabric with moderate coarse grits including pale grey quartz and greenish stone. Pimply, slightly smooth surface.
North-west fine oxidised A fine orange fabric with few visible inclusions, often with a self-coloured slip and occasionally with a white slip. Decoration can include juddering, burnished lattice, appliqué, rouletting and barbotine dots. Almost certainly a local, military product (probably incorporated into L1 fabric 12(unidentified oxidised wares)).   IMAGE
North-west gritty oxidised

Orange fabric, slightly pimply surface with common quartz and sparse limestone inclusions. Decoration can include juddering, burnished lattice, roulette and barbotine dots. Almost certainly a local, military product (L1 fabric 13).   IMAGE

North-west gritty reduced A gritty grey fabric, probably a reduced variant of North-west gritty oxidised ware. Pimply surface, slightly micaceous with visible quartz inclusions (CS fabric 329).
North-west oxidised barbotine dot Oxidised fabric with cream slip and pink barbotine dots, with small common quartz and occasional small black inclusions.
Organically tempered Coarse grey / brown fabric with many voids left by organic inclusions.
Oxidised rusticated Orange fabric with a cream slip and quite sandy.
Parisian Monaghan 1997, 888
Patchgrove grog-tempered PAT GT
Pimply grey Hard grey fabric, gritty, with a pimply surface caused by protruding inclusions.
Pipeclay Pipeclay, creamy white with cream surface. Flagon fabric, imported.
Pompeian red 3 CNG PR 3
Reduced rusticated A fabric group, probably products of many sources. Hard grey fabrics with rusticated decoration.
Sandy grey Sandy grey fabric.
Sandy micaceous reduced Grey fabric with abundant muscovite mica and common quartz inclusions.
Severn Valley SVW OX
Shell-tempered Abundant shell fabric is a gritty grey fabric often with an oxidised surface.
Smooth highly micaceous grey Fine grey ware with abundant fine muscovite mica.
South Essex/North Kent see 'fabrics allied to BB2', Bidwell and Speak 1994, 228-31; Bidwell and Croom 2002, 153
South Yorkshire grey Monaghan 1997, 893
Speicher oxidised SPE OX
Unsourced oxidised various oxidised greys of unknown sources
Unsourced reduced various reduced wares of unknown sources
Verulamium region white VER WH
White core grey Hard mid-grey fabric with a very light grey to white core.
Wilderspool WIL
West Stow type cf. WES FR



Anderson, A. C. 1980. A Guide to Roman Fine Wares

Bidwell, P. and Croom, A. 2002. ’The Roman pottery’ in Snape, M. And Bidwell, P., Excavations at Castle Garth, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1976-92 and 1995-6’, Archaeologia Aeliana 5th series, 31, 1-249


Bidwell, P. and Speak, S. 1994. Excavations at South Shields Roman Fort Volume I


Holbrook, N. and Bidwell, P. T. 1991. Roman Finds from Exeter


Monaghan, J. 1997. Roman Pottery from York


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