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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


Hadham Fabrics

Three Hadham fabrics which achieved more than local distribution are included here and defined as Oxidised ware, Reduced ware 1 and Reduced ware 2.

Hand specimen

All three fabrics have essentially the same clay body containing a well-sorted suite of inclusions, normally <0.1mm, dominated by abundant rounded and subrounded quartz in a micaceous matrix containing silver or occasionally gold mica. Red-brown and black iron-rich grains are common, and the mixture of this and the quartz leads to the distinctive ‘salt-and-pepper’ appearance of the fabric, particularly in the Oxidised ware. Sparse matrix-coloured clay pellets, up to 2.0mm, can be seen in all three fabrics. All the sherds have an irregular fracture but they vary from hard to soft, depending on their preservation, and as a result they may have a smooth to powdery surface.

The principal observable difference is between Reduced ware 2 and the other two fabrics; although the main inclusion fraction is of similar size in all three, Oxidised ware and Reduced ware 1 incorporate a wider range of variability.

Thin section

All the samples share a well-sorted groundmass (0.05–0.15mm) in a sparsely micaceous (muscovite) matrix. Within these parameters, quartz is common to abundant, flint common to sparse; opaques, feldspar and accessory minerals rare. Glauconitic pellets can also be identified. Occasional inclusions measure to 0.5mm and comprise quartz (sometimes polycrystalline), clay pellets and opaques (sometimes quartz rich).


Production is known from unpublished kilns at Bromley Hall Farm in Wickham Spring Field, Little Hadham excavated by Bernard Barr. Mortaria were found in association with a single kiln.


Colchester Museums; Harlow Museum; Hertford Museum; Saffron Walden Museum


Darling, M J, 1993 The Roman pottery, in Caister-on-Sea: excavations by Charles Green 1951–1955 (M Darling with D Gurney) East Anglian Archaeol 60, 153–218

Going, C J, 1987 The mansio and other sites in the south-east sector of Caesaromagus: the Roman pottery, CBA Res Rep 62/Chelmsford Archaeol Trust Rep 3.2

Going, C J, & Ford, B, 1988 Romano-British pottery, in Excavations at Great Dunmow, Essex: a Romano-British small town in the Trinovantian civitas (N P Wickenden), East Anglian Archaeol 41, 60–76

Harden, D, & Green, C, 1978 A late Roman grave-group from the Minories, Aldgate, in Collectanea Londiniensia. Studies in London archaeology and history presented to Ralph Merrifield (eds J Bird, H Chapman & J Clark), London Middlesex Archaeol Soc Spec Paper 2, 163–75

Johnson, S, 1983 Burgh Castle excavations by Charles Green 1958–61, East Anglian Archaeol 20

Orton, C, 1977 The pottery, in Excavations at Angel Court, Walbrook, 1974 (T R Blurton), Trans London Middlesex Archaeol Soc 28, 30–53

Rodwell, W J, 1982 (1983) The production and distribution of pottery and tiles in the territory of the Trinovantes, Essex Archaeol Hist 14, 15–76

Wallace, C & Horsley, K, 2004 The late Iron Age and Roman pottery, in Excavations at Stansted Airport, 1986-91. Vol 1: Prehistoric and Romano-British (R Havis & H Brooks), East Anglian Archaeol 107, 285-–312

Hadham Oxidised ware (HAD OX)

Five samples

General appearance

This fabric is typically orange-brown (2.5YR 6/8–5/8) or red-brown (10R 6/8), occasionally with a darker – towards purple – (10R 4/3) core. Where intact, the external surface is burnished in narrow horizontal bands, often alternating with unburnished bands (although not on mortaria). The industry is typified by small and large bowl-jars (Going 1987, E2–4, 6), dishes, imitations of Dragendorff 38 bowls, mortaria and flagons. A wide range of other forms was also produced, including the less common but distinctive pedestal-base jars and face pots. Although some of these forms overlap with those produced by the Oxford industry, the combinations of ‘Romano-Saxon’ bosses, dimples and grooves which figure prominently on the bowl-jars are diagnostic.

Hand specimen

In this variant, the quartz may occasionally range up to 0.5mm. Mortaria were produced in this fabric and in our sample trituration grits are abundant well-sorted translucent quartz, mostly 1.5–2.0mm but ranging between 0.8–2.5mm, and occasional fragments of sandstone, 2.0–3.0mm. The trituration grits are not dissimilar to those utilised by the Oxford industry, but as vessels outside the collection indicate, often include occasional flint and/or orange-brown material. It is on the finest textured fabrics that Hadham trituration grits are most likely to be restricted to quartz and may, like the Oxford industry, sometimes be pink in colour. The Hadham trituration grits can also be confused with other products from East Anglia (K Hartley, pers comm).

Thin section

Sparse trituration grits (1.0–1.7mm) are composed primarily of monocrystalline and polycrystalline quartz and quartzite, with rare flint, siliceous sandstone, quartz-rich clay pellets (possibly not trituration grits) and opaque inclusions also identified.


English Heritage; Essex County Council, Chelmsford; Museum of London

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

Plate 123a: Fresh sherd break of HAD OX (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 123a: Fresh sherd break of HAD OX (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 123b: Trituration grits on HAD OX (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 123b: Trituration grits on HAD OX (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 123.1: Photomicrograph of HAD OX (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 123.1: Photomicrograph of HAD OX (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

Plate 123.2: Photomicrograph of trituration grits on HAD OX (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 123.2: Photomicrograph of trituration grits on HAD OX (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)