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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


Gaulish amphorae 2 (GAL AM 2)

Five samples

This type equates to London 555 amphora (Peacock & Williams no 59), first defined by Wheeler (1930). In France it is referred to as Haltern 70 similis (Dangréaux & Desbat 1988).

General appearance

A pale brown (7.5YR 7/4, 5YR 7/6) or pale orange (2.5YR 7/8) fabric with slightly lighter surfaces, sometimes with a greenish tinge (2.5YR 8/3, 10YR 8/4–7/4) or other light-coloured margins. The fabric is hard with a smooth fracture, and rough to harsh surfaces, depending on whether the external surface is sand gritted. Frequently the sherds are wiped, giving an appearance of bread dough (B Richardson, pers comm).

Hand specimen

This fabric generally has a well-sorted groundmass in a micaceous (silver and gold) clay with larger, ill-sorted inclusions, most measuring <0.4mm. Although silt-sized quartz and limestone are the two most frequent constituents, additional ones vary in importance from sample to sample, with red-brown, red and brown argillaceous inclusions (metamorphic rocks and clay pellets) diagnostic. Iron-rich fragments and feldspar are also visible.

The range of inclusions present here is identical to that described for GAL AM 1. In the case of GAL AM 2, areas of the outside surface may be sprinkled or sanded with particles up to 0.7mm; even on those sherds which are not sanded, occasional larger inclusions seem to protrude the surface. However, it remains difficult to separate the two Gaulish fabrics unless a body sherd with sanding or a indicator sherd (rim, base, handle) is available.

Thin section

An exceptionally fine clay, virtually identical to GAL AM 1 is visible in thin section. It is calcareous and micaceous (muscovite and biotite), containing sparse silt-grade quartz and limestone, and even fewer opaques. A scatter of larger inclusions, measuring 0.1–0.3mm occasionally to 0.6mm, is present: primarily monocrystalline and some polycrystalline quartz and limestone, but also – in order of decreasing frequency – mica, quartz-mica schist, feldspar, ferruginous clay pellets, quartzite, quartz aggregates, fine-grained sandstone and microfossils.


Although a source in Spain has been proposed (Sealey & Tyers 1989), fabric analysis indicates that despite the lack of kiln evidence at least some were produced in Gaul (Dangréaux & Desbat 1988, 123; Desbat 1987). The fabric of our samples is more in keeping with other Gaulish amphorae and this source is supported here.


Museum of London


Colchester Museums; Museum of London; CNRS CRA Laboratoire de Céramologie, Lyon (France); Musée de la Civilisation Gallo-Romaine, Lyon (France)


Dangréaux, B, & Desbat, A, 1988 Les amphores du dépotoir Flavien de Bas-de-Loyasse à Lyon, Gallia 45, 115–53

Davies, B J, Richardson, B, & Tomber, R S, 1994 The archaeology of Roman London 5. A dated corpus of early Roman pottery from the City of London, CBA Res Rep 98

Desbat, A, 1987 Note sur la production d’amphores à Lyon au début de l’Empire, SFECAG. Actes du Congrès de Caen, 159–66

Jacquin, L, Becker, C, Dangréaux, B, & Genin, M, 1993 Un dépôt d’amphores lyonnaises sur le site de l’Ilot 24, Revue Archéologique de l’Est et du Centre-Est 44, 105–41

Sealey, P R, & Tyers, P A, 1989 Olives from Roman Spain: a unique amphora find in British waters, Antiq J 69, 53–72

Symonds, R P, & Wade, S, 1999 Roman pottery from excavations in Colchester, Colchester Archaeol Rep 10

Wheeler, R E M, 1930 London in Roman times

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

Plate 70: Fresh sherd break of GAL AM 2 (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 70: Fresh sherd break of GAL AM 2 (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 70.1: Photomicrograph of GAL AM 2 (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 70.1: Photomicrograph of GAL AM 2 (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

Plate 70.2: Photomicrograph of GAL AM 2 (XPL) (width of field 0.87 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 70.2: Photomicrograph of GAL AM 2 (XPL) (width of field 0.87 mm)