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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


Gallia-Belgica (Vesle Valley) Terra Nigra 1 (GAB TN 1)

Four samples

General appearance

A variety of fabric colours and textures are grouped together here. Unlike Gallia-Belgica Terra Rubra 1–3, however, where meaningful distinctions can be made, diverse TN products could be stamped by the same maker and thus there is no suitable means of division (Rigby 1989a, 126). Two main colour variants are represented amongst our samples: pale grey to blue-grey (7/0–6/0) with grey (6/0–4/0, Rigby’s 1989a, 126 ‘dove-grey’) surfaces; or grey-brown (7.5YR 6/1, 2.5Y 6/1–6/2) with black surfaces (3/0–2.5/0). Dark brown or grey fabrics are also known. Firing is variable and a range of colours may be present on a single vessel (ibid). The slip is of a very high quality, sometimes glossy, and the rim may be darkened. All our samples are hard with a smooth fracture. The group is distinguished by exceptionally smooth surfaces, together with a repertoire of platters and cups.

Hand specimen

As for colour, some variety in texture can be seen between samples. Most inclusions however are well sorted and dominated by quartz, usually <0.1mm or <0.2mm with grains up to 0.4mm identified. The clay is normally silty, but one sample has a dense matrix. Few other inclusions are visible, and these consist of sparse, dark iron-rich fragments, some of which can be identified in the hand as clay pellets, and white clay pellets, occasionally to 1.0mm.

Thin section

The clean clay matrix contains common, frequently angular, ill-sorted quartz and less feldspar, ranging from silt sized to c 0.5mm but normally 0.1–0.2mm. Apart from opaques, which occur regularly, other inclusions are rare and comprise chert, polycrystalline quartz, clay pellets and flecks of muscovite mica.


Like Gallia-Belgica Terra Rubra 1–3, this fabric was produced in the Marne-Vesle Valley, as well as at Trier and probably in Germania Inferior, at Cologne; beyond the Marne-Vesle region in northern Gaul, Bavay and Amiens (Nord) may also have been source areas (Rigby 1989a, 126–7).


Royal Museum and Art Gallery, Canterbury (Tiberio-Claudian forms and fabrics); Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle (early military sites); Chichester District Museum (Tiberio-Claudian forms and fabrics); Corinium Museum, Cirencester (early military sites); Colchester Museums; Dorset County Museum, Dorchester (early military sites); Ipswich Museum; Department of Prehistoric & Romano-British Antiquities, The British Museum; Scunthorpe Museum and Art Gallery (Claudio-Neronian forms and fabrics and early military sites)


Holwerda, J H, 1941 De Belgische Waar in Nijmegen, Beschrijuing van de verzameling van het Museum G M Kam te Nijmegen 2, Nijmegen

Rigby, V, 1977 The Gallo-Belgic pottery from Cirencester, in Roman Pottery studies in Britain and beyond. Papers presented to John Gillam, July 1977 (eds J Dore & K Greene), BAR Suppl Ser 30, 37–45 (distribution on early military sites)

Rigby, V, 1985 The Gallo-Belgic wares: discussion and conclusions, in Sheepen: an early Roman industrial site at Camulodunum (R Niblett), CBA Res Rep 57, 74–82 and microfiche 1:D12-2:B10(Claudio-Neronian late platters and cups)

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 (Tiberio-Claudian form and fabric ranges)

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

Plate 5: Fresh sherd break of GAB TN 1 (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 5: Fresh sherd break of GAB TN 1 (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 5.1: Photomicrograph of GAB TN 1 (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 5.1: Photomicrograph of GAB TN 1 (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

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