This is generally a pale grey or pale grey-brown (7/0, 7.5YR 7/1) fabric, with slightly darker (5/0–4/0, 7.5YR 6/1, 10YR 6/2) surfaces. Rigby (1989, 120) describes the surfaces as ‘dove-grey’ to dark blue-grey, noting the bluish tinge to all sherds with an original surface. In some cases the rim in particular is darker. Most are well slipped, although not glossy, and therefore smooth to the touch, apart from one example which is unslipped and rough. The fabric is hard with an irregular fracture. A discrete range of vessel forms (unstamped footring platters and drinking cups or bowls) is present.
The most distinctive feature of the fabric is the intensely micaceous (mostly silver, some gold, to 0.5mm) surfaces, on both slipped and unslipped sherds; mica is less visible, although frequently common, and finer in the break. Normally well sorted, the fabric comprises abundant inclusions of quartz and less feldspar, mostly 0.1–0.2mm, with grains up to 0.9mm. Other recurring inclusions are sparse, but dark iron-rich inclusions, sorted as the quartz, are consistently present; in some sherds elongated black argillaceous fragments and white clay pellets (0.2–5.0mm) can also be identified. The fabric belongs to Rigby’s (1989a, 120) Standard Fabric Group 2A.
The fabric is characterised by abundant muscovite and biotite mica, the former dominant and frequently measuring up to 0.3mm. In texture it contains sparse silt-grade inclusions, sparse larger quartz and even less feldspar, mostly c 0.1–0.2mm, but occasionally to 0.3mm. Also present are clay pellets, identical in texture and composition to the overall matrix, measuring to 0.5mm or occurring as streaking in the clay. Opaque inclusions, some possibly voids from organics, can be seen but are not diagnostic. In his study of fifteen sherds, Freestone (1989, 264) also identified volcanic rocks, and suggested that the mica was of metamorphic origin. Finally, he allied the fabric, and the source, to Central Gaulish Pompeian Red ware 3 and Central Gaulish Glazed ware 2.
The variation in fabric suggests a number of production centres, all with a likely source in the Massif Central based on petrological and typological evidence (Rigby 1989a, 120).
Colchester Museums; Department of Prehistoric & Romano-British Antiquities, The British Museum
Ferdière, A, & Ferdière, M, 1972 Introduction à l’étude d’un type de céramique: les urnes à bord mouluré gallo-romaines précoces, Revue Archéologique de l’Est et du Centre-Est 22, 77–89
Freestone, I C, 1989 The petrology of the pottery from the Iron Age cemetery, in Verulamium. The King Harry Lane site (I M Stead & V Rigby), Engl Heritage Archaeol Rep 12, 264–6
Rigby, V, 1989a Pottery from the Iron Age cemetery, in Verulamium. The King Harry Lane site (I M Stead & V Rigby), Engl Heritage Archaeol Rep 12, 112–210