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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


Cologne Colour-coated ware (KOL CC)

Five samples

Although the English usage of Cologne for Köln is adopted here, the abbreviation follows the German in order to distinguish it from Colchester (COL CC 2).

General appearance

Our samples are white (10YR 8/1–8/2) with dark matt, glossy or metallic slip, ranging from black (3/0–2.5/0) to black-brown or black-green (2.5Y 3/1) or with a bronze (7.5YR 4/1–3/1) cast, sometimes mottled lighter or orange (7.5YR 6/6) where the slip is thin. Green (1979, 56) notes a distinct change in colour near the girth of cups, lighter on the lower half of the vessel, resulting from stacking during firing. Sherds are hard with a smooth fracture and smooth feel. A range of cups and beakers with roughcasting, barbotine and, less frequently, rouletted decoration are typical.

Hand specimen

This fabric has a fine clay with sparse quartz and red iron-rich fragments, occasionally identifiable are clay pellets. These inclusions are well sorted, typically with quartz common, although this is variable and in rare samples a clean clay matrix contains only sparse grains. Red iron-rich fragments – occasionally identifiable as clay pellets – are the only other visible inclusions and both are normally <0.1mm, with occasional grains to 0.5mm. Roughcasting, particularly external, is common and our single recorded example comprises clay pellets, generally delicate in size and application (to c 1.0mm).

KOL CC is superficially similar to Central Gaulish Colour-coated ware 1 and Lower Nene Valley Colour-coated ware. It can be distinguished from CNG CC 1 by its siltier fabric and range of decorative techniques, lacking the hairpin and raspberry motifs associated with central Gaulish types. In contrast to Nene Valley products, KOL CC normally has a distinctively cleaner fabric, and higher quality slip and barbotine decoration.

Thin section

An isotropic clay matrix with common silt-sized quartz (rarely to 0.1mm), together with rare opaques and muscovite mica, is visible in thin section.


These types have been found in association with kilns at Cologne (Binsfeld 1964).


Department of Prehistoric & Romano-British Antiquities, The British Museum; Museum of London


Department of Prehistoric & Romano-British Antiquities, The British Museum; Museum of London; Römische-Germanisches Museum, Cologne (Germany)


Anderson, A C, 1981 Some continental beakers of the first and second centuries AD, in Roman pottery research in Britain and north-west Europe. Papers presented to Graham Webster (eds A C Anderson & A S Anderson), BAR Int Ser 123(ii), 321–43

Anderson, A, Fulford, M G, Hatcher, H, & Pollard, A M, 1982 Chemical analysis of hunt cups and allied wares from Britain, Britannia 13, 229–38

Binsfeld, W, 1964 Zu den römischen Töpfereien am Rudolfplatz in Köln, Kölner Jahrbuch 7, 19–32

Bocquet, A, Laduron, D, & Vilvorder, F, 1992 Carte d’identité physico-chimique des céramiques fines engobées produites dans les ateliers de Cologne et de Trèves, SFECAG. Actes du Congrès de Tournai, 223–37

Hancock, R G V, 1984 On the source of clay used for Cologne Roman pottery, Archaeometry 26, 210–17

Richardson, B, 1986 The waterfront group: coarsewares and non-samian finewares, in The Roman quay at St Magnus House, London. Excavations at New Fresh Wharf, Lower Thames Street, London 1974–1978 (L Miller, J Schofield & M Rhodes), London Middlesex Archaeol Soc Spec Pap 8, 106–38

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

Plate 40: Fresh sherd break of KOL CC (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 40: Fresh sherd break of KOL CC (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 40.1: Photomicrograph of KOL CC (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 40.1: Photomicrograph of KOL CC (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

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