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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


Lower Rhineland Marbled ware (LOR MA)

Two samples

General appearance

In colour this fabric is brown (5YR 6/4) or brown-pink (10R 7/6) with orange-brown (2.5YR 6/6) slipped surfaces and ephemeral marbling in a slightly duller tone (2.5YR 5/6). The fabric is hard with a smooth fracture and feel. Flagons and jugs are the most popular forms in Britain.

Hand specimen

Our sherds contain abundant well-sorted quartz (0.1–0.2mm, occasionally to 0.5mm) set in a sparsely micaceous matrix with fine silver and gold mica. Other inclusions are sparse but red metamorphic grains (0.2–0.9mm), feldspar (c 0.5mm), accessory minerals (0.3–0.5mm) and occasional matrix-coloured clay pellets (1.0–2.5mm) are present. The fabric differs from other marbled wares in this collection by the relatively coarse inclusion size.

Thin section

This sample contains common ill-sorted fine to medium-grade sand, composed predominantly of quartz with minor feldspar, rare chert and rare quartz-mica rock fragments, up to 1.5mm. A single large grain of phyllite is present in the section examined, as are rare grains of ?augite. Our sherd shares traits with that described by Bird and Williams (1983, 247), and a similar source area is likely. Only rare mica was visible in section and not considered significant.


Most British examples belong to the type of marbled ware described as ‘mamorierte keramik’ whose distribution indicates a source on the Rhine or lower Mosel. The petrology further isolates the Eifel-Rhenish area of Germany as a probable source area (Bird & Williams 1983).


Canterbury Museums


Canterbury Museums; Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, The British Museum


Bird, J, & Williams, D F, 1983 German marbled flagons in Roman Britain, Britannia 14, 247–52

Gose, E, 1976 Gefässtypen der römischen Keramik im Rheinland, Cologne (2nd ed)

Green, M J, 1995 The period 4 fine wares, in Excavations in the Marlowe Car Park and surrounding areas. Part 2: the finds (K Blockley, M Blockley, P Blockley, S S Frere, & S Stow), The Archaeology of Canterbury 5, 741–54

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

Plate 41: Fresh sherd break of LOR MA (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 41: Fresh sherd break of LOR MA (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 41.1: Photomicrograph of LOR MA (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 41.1: Photomicrograph of LOR MA (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

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