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The National Roman Fabric Reference Collection: a Handbook

Hand specimen picture panel
Thin section picture panel


Appendix 1: Keywords and Definitions
Appendix 2: Physical Layout of Sherds Housed in the NRFRC


Aoste, Isère White ware (AOI WH)

Single sample

This category includes only the mortaria which although rare in Britain are widespread throughout the western Empire. Two mortarium types were commonly made at this centre, but only one of these, classified by Gillam as 236 (Hartley Group I (ii)), has been found in Britain. A similar form was occasionally made at Colchester and in northern France.

General appearance

Our sample is cream to brown-cream (7.5YR 7/6) with pale yellow (10YR 8/4) surfaces that show evidence of wiping. It is hard with a smooth fracture and a rough feel.

Hand specimen

The clay matrix is very fine textured and compact, with few visible inclusions apart from a sparse scatter of very fine silver mica and limestone, <0.1mm. Occasional grains of quartz measuring 0.1–0.2mm are also present. Trituration grits are usually transparent and white quartz, although none are visible on our sample and therefore no photograph exists.

Thin section

This is a fine micaceous fabric, containing abundant biotite and muscovite mica and sparse to common silt-sized quartz inclusions. Also visible are sparse larger inclusions of quartz, feldspar, opaques and limestone, normally to c 0.15mm but rarely to 0.5mm; a single fragment of sandy limestone measures 1.3mm in size. Some areas of the section contain poorly mixed clay, with pellets up to 2.0mm.


The mortaria are products of a larger industry within the area (Laroche 1987), where both coarse wares and mortaria were made.


Museum of London


National Museum of Wales; Fishbourne Roman Palace Museum, near Chichester; Musée d’Antiquités Gallo-Romaines, Aoste (France)


Hartley, K F, 1977 Two major potteries producing mortaria in the first century AD, in Roman pottery studies in Britain and beyond. Papers presented to John Gillam, July 1977 (eds J Dore & K Greene), BAR Suppl Ser 30, 5–17

Hartley, K F, 1993a The mortaria, in Report on the excavations at Usk 1965–1976. The Roman pottery (ed W H Manning), 389–425

Hartley, K F, 1998 The incidence of stamped mortaria in the Roman Empire with special reference to imports to Britain, in Form and fabric: studies in Rome’s material past in honour of B R Hartley (ed J Bird), Oxbow Monogr 80, 199–217

Laroche, C, 1987 Aoste (Isère): un centre de production de céramiques (fin du Ier siècle avant J.-C. – fin du Ier siècle après J.-C.). Fouilles récentes (1983–1984), Revue Archéologique de Narbonnaise 20, 281–348

Santrot, M-H, & Santrot, J, 1979 Céramiques communes gallo-romaines d’Aquitaine, Centre de Recherches Interdisciplinaires d’Archéologie Analytique ERA 584, Paris

See the related record on the Atlas of Roman Pottery on the Potsherd website

Plate 48: Fresh sherd break of AOI WH (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 48: Fresh sherd break of AOI WH (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 48.1: Photomicrograph of AOI WH (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 48.1: Photomicrograph of AOI WH (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

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