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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


Derbyshire Coarse ware (DER CO)

Four samples

The four examples in the collection are taken from different kilns and were chosen to give some indication of the possible variation, particularly in colour.

General appearance

Both oxidised and reduced wares appear to have been intentionally produced. The break is typically grey (6/0–7/0), sometimes with a paler grey or grey-brown (7.5YR 7/2) core; however, it can be orange (2.5YR 6/8) or maroon (10R 4/4), frequently with a grey core. Surfaces can be a similar mix of colours but are typically grey (near 5/0) on the exterior and pale orange (7.5YR 7/6) on the interior. The fabric is very hard with a hackly fracture, but it can be conchoidal in the hardest fired examples. The appearance and feel of the surface is probably still best described using Gillam’s phrase as ‘goose-flesh petrified’ (1939, 429). Only jars, lid seated and roll rimmed, were produced in this fabric.

Hand specimen

The clay matrix can be very dense and clean and inclusions are generally ill sorted. Quartz is common, mostly 0.3–0.6mm, with the larger inclusions to 2.0mm identifiable as composite grains. Black and red-brown iron-rich grains are also common (0.1–0.5mm). Less frequent but still common in some samples are grey ?iron-rich inclusions (0.3–2.0mm) and sparse red-brown clay pellets (2.0–4.0mm), and sparse feldspar (1.0mm).

Thin section

This sample is characterised by a clean clay matrix containing only rare silt-sized quartz and colourless mica. Additional ill-sorted subangular to subrounded inclusions between 0.2–1.0mm are common. Included in this group are single grains of quartz or feldspar, but more diagnostically sandstone fragments, typically consisting of quartz, sometimes with untwinned feldspar and patches of fine-grained white kaolinitic material. Small opaques and iron-rich pellets, measuring <0.2mm, are common


Kilns are known north of Derby, at Hazlewood, Holbrook (Jones & Webster 1969), Milford and Shottlegate.


Trent & Peak Archaeological Trust


Derby Museum and Art Gallery


Brassington, M, & Webster, W A, 1988 (1989) The Lumb Brook pottery kilns, Hazelwood. An interim report, Derbyshire Archaeol J 108, 21–33

Gillam, J P, 1939 Romano-British Derbyshire ware, Antiq J 19, 429–37

Jones, G D B, & Webster, P V, 1969 Derbyshire ware – a reappraisal, Derbyshire Archaeol J 89, 19–24

Kay, S O, 1962 Romano-British pottery kilns at Hazlewood and Holbrook, Derbyshire, Derbyshire Archaeol J 82, 21–42

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

Plate 98: Fresh sherd break of DER CO (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 98: Fresh sherd break of DER CO (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 98.1: Photomicrograph of DER CO (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 98.1: Photomicrograph of DER CO (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

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