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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


Campanian Fabrics

Two fabric types with a probable source in Campania are included here: both the well-known ‘black sand’ fabric, together with a volcanic fabric thought to originate in northern Campania. The source evidence for these two types, including the kiln and petrological evidence, is summarised by Williams (1994a).


Arthur, P, 1982 Roman amphorae and the Ager Falernus under the empire, Pap British School Rome 50, 22–33 (Fabric 2)

Arthur, P, & Williams, D F, 1992 Campanian wine, Roman Britain and the third century AD, J Roman Archaeol 5, 250–60 (Fabrics 1, 2)

Courtois, L, & Velde, B, 1978 Une amphore à grenat jaune du Latium à amathonte, Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 102, 977–81 (Fabric 1)

Fitzpatrick, A, 1985 The distribution of Dressel 1 amphorae in north-west Europe, Oxford J Archaeol 4, 305–40 (P&W 3-5)

Peacock, D P S, 1971 Roman amphorae in pre-Roman Britain, in The Iron Age and its hill-forts. Papers presented to Sir Mortimer Wheeler on the occasion of his eightieth year (eds M Jesson & D Hill), 161–88 (Fabric 1)

Pollard, R J, 1994 The Iron Age and Roman pottery, in Iron Age and Roman occupation in the West Bridge area, Leicester. Excavations 1962–1971 (P Clay & R J Pollard), 51–114 (Cam 139)

Sealey, P R, 1985 Amphoras from the 1970 excavations at Colchester Sheepen, BAR 142 (Fabric 1)

Tchernia, A, 1988 Le vin de l’Italie romaine: essai d’histoire économique d’après les amphores, Rome

Velde, B, & Curtois, L, 1983 Yellow garnets in Roman amphorae – a possible tracer of ancient commerce, J Archaeol Science 10, 531–9 (Fabric 1)

Williams, D F, 1987a The amphorae, in Romano-British industries in Purbeck (N Sunter & P J Woodward), Dorset Natur Hist Archaeol Soc Monogr Ser 6, 79–81 (Fabric 1, Cam 139)

Williams, D F, 1991 Amphorae from York, in Roman Pottery from the Colonia (J R Perrin), The Archaeology of York. The Pottery 16/4, 342–62 (Fabric 2)

Williams, D F, 1994a Campanian amphorae, in Excavations at South Shields Roman fort 1 (P Bidwell & S Speak), Soc Antiq Newcastle upon Tyne Monogr Ser 4, 217–19 (Fabrics 1, 2)

Williams, D F, & Peacock, D P S, 1979 The amphorae, in Excavations at Puckeridge and Braughing 1975–9 (C Partridge), Hertfordshire Archaeol 7, 113–6 (Fabric 1, Cam 139 and other forms)

Campanian (Black sand) amphorae 1 (CAM AM 1)

Four samples

General appearance

This is a pink or red to red-brown (10R 5/6-5/8, 10R 6/8–5/8, 10R 6/6) fabric, sometimes with slightly lighter internal surfaces and normally with an external slip, showing as very pale pink or cream (7.5YR 8/2, 10YR 8/3, 2.5Y 8/3, 2.5YR 7/8). Sherds are hard, and the break is hackly with harsh surfaces. A wide range of forms was produced in this fabric, including Peacock & Williams Classes 3–5 (Dressel 1), Peacock & Williams Class 10 (Dressel 2–4), a lesser known 3rd century form derivative of Class 10 with almond-shaped rim and ovoid handle (Arthur & Williams 1992), as well as a smaller single-handled vessel known as the Camulodunum 139.

Hand specimen

The classic fabric is dominated by common to abundant well-sorted ‘black sand’ or accessory minerals, normally measuring 0.2–0.5mm although occasionally to 1.5mm. Feldspar and quartz, in the same size range as the accessory minerals, may be common to sparse, while sparse red-brown igneous rocks (some possibly argillaceous inclusions) of varying texture can be identified. Finally, sparse gold mica is present in all samples, while rare sherds contain sparse white material, not reaching to dilute hydrochloric acid. The fabric is identical to that described for Campanian Pompeian Red ware 1.

Thin section

Our sample comprises a sparsely calcareous isotropic clay matrix with common ill-sorted fine to medium sand-grade inclusions, composed of subangular feldspar, quartz, clinopyroxene and lava, in approximately equal proportions. Rare biotite and amphibole are also present. The melanitic garnet which is commonly noted as a feature of this fabric is represented in this section by a single grain, with a diameter of 0.1mm. This sample is somewhat unusual, for normally feldspar is more common than quartz (D Williams, pers comm).


This fabric belongs to Peacock’s (1971) fabric 2, and the scientific evidence in support of a Campanian source in the Pompeii/Herculaneum region – on petrological grounds – has been summarised by Peacock and Williams (1986, 87–8).


Leicestershire Museums; Museum of London; Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum, South Shields


Colchester Museums; Jewry Wall Museum of Archaeology (Humberstone Drive Annexe), Leicester; Museum of London; Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum, South Shields; York Archaeological Trust

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

Plate 65: Fresh sherd break of CAM AM 1 (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 65: Fresh sherd break of CAM AM 1 (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 65.1: Photomicrograph of CAM AM 1 (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 65.1: Photomicrograph of CAM AM 1 (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)