SGRP home page

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


East Gaulish Samian Fabrics

The production centres from thie region are the most diverse, with a wide range of fabrics (including lime-rich ones) produced. They are perhaps better characterised by a poor quality slip which tends toward orange.

Argonne samian (ARG SA)

Six samples

A number of small workshops are subsumed under this heading. The related late Argonne Red-slipped ware, with its own distinct decorative style, is described separately in this volume.

General appearance

Considerable variation in fabric colour and composition is usual for this group, ranging from orange-brown (2.5YR 5/8) to red-brown (10R 5/8). Surfaces also vary but are normally red-brown (10R 5/8), sometimes with paler and yellower patches giving an almost marbled effect. The slip is not of particularly good quality being matt or semi-lustrous, often with pimples in it and surface imperfections in the clay below the slip; nevertheless, the surface can still be described as smooth. The fabric is normally dense and well fired, often almost to the point of vitrification, resulting in a hard fabric with smooth fracture.

Hand specimen

The inclusions in this fabric are generally well sorted, normally measuring c 0.1–0.2mm with occasional inclusions reaching 0.4mm. Unlike many other samian fabrics, limestone is sparse and tends to measure <0.2mm. Fine silver mica is common, with all remaining inclusions sparse: black iron-rich grains, quartz and, occasionally, matrix-coloured clay pellets. One sherd is from a mortarium and trituration grits comprise abundant ill-sorted angular and milky quartz, some polycrystalline, and sparse quartz sandstone (1.0–2.5mm). Although the sherd originates from Argonne, it is atypical, perhaps being overfired.

Thin section

A micaceous (muscovite and rare brown mica) fabric with well-sorted inclusions. Quartz is common, normally <0.1mm, occasionally to 0.2mm, with fewer opaques and glauconite, and rare feldspar. Other inclusions are normally in the same size range, apart from rare poorly-mixed clay pellets and siltstone (to c 0.5mm).


Canterbury Museums; Museum of London


University of Nottingham (Oswald-Plicque Collection); Musée des Antiquités Nationales, Saint-Germain-en-Laye (France)


Bémont, C, & Jacob, J-P (eds), 1986 La terre sigillée gallo-romaine. Lieux de production du Haut Empire: implantations, produits, relations, Documents d’Archéologie Française 6, Paris

Chenet, G, & Gaudron, G, 1955 La céramique sigillée d’Argonne des IIe et IIIe siècles, Gallia Supplément 6

Oswald, F, 1945 Decorated ware from Lavoye, J Roman Stud 35, 49–57

Ricken, H, 1934b C. Töpfer von La Madeleine, Saalburg Jahrbuch 8, 133–60

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

Plate 22: Fresh sherd break of ARG SA (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 22: Fresh sherd break of ARG SA (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 22.1: Photomicrograph of ARG SA (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 22.1: Photomicrograph of ARG SA (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)