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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


Moselkeramik Black-slipped ware (MOS BS)

Five samples

General appearance

This fabric is generally orange-brown (2.5YR 5/6–5/8) or red (10R 5/8) with a grey core or margins, these colours being sandwiched together in thin, well defined layers. It is hard with a conchoidal fracture and a smooth feel. The slip is smooth, even and glossy with, in many cases, a metallic sheen. In most cases it is not quite completely black, being rather a very dark, slightly green-brown (5Y 2.5/2). A wide range of beakers was produced, but typical forms are folded and rouletted beakers, or occasionally those decorated with barbotine comprising white pipeclay.

Hand specimen

A fine fabric, generally with inclusions <0.1mm (although rarely to 0.4mm) and a fused matrix. Limestone is consistently abundant, while black iron-rich grains and silver mica may be common; quartz is invariably sparse. It has a characteristically speckled appearance, caused by the quantities of very fine limestone in the clay. Although mica can be identified in the clay, in comparison to Central Gaulish Black-slipped ware the fabric is characterised by the lack of mica.

Thin section

In thin section this is a fine calcareous clay, containing common silt-grade quartz and limestone. The inclusions are ill sorted, with common limestone, frequently to c 0.15mm although up to c 0.3mm; other inclusions, graded as the limestone, are sparse opaques and rare clay pellets and quartz. Sparse muscovite mica is clearly visible.


Trier appears to have been the main source for these wares, although the unpublished production centre at Kasden (Cochem-Zell, Germany) may have been a secondary source (Vilvorder 1999).


Museum of London


Corbridge Roman Site Museum; Department of Prehistoric & Romano-British Antiquities, The British Museum; Museum of London; Römische-Germanisches Museum, Cologne (Germany); Rheinische Landesmuseum, Trier (Germany)


Blaszkiewicz, P, & Dufournier, D, 1987 Caractérisation et diffusion du ‘gobelet sac’ en Normandie, du milieu du Ier à la fin du IIe siècle, SFECAG. Actes du Congrès de Caen, 75–80

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

Greene, K, 1978c Roman trade between Britain and the Rhine provinces: the evidence of the pottery to AD 250, in Roman shipping and trade: Britain and the Rhine provinces (eds J du Plat Taylor & H Cleere), CBA Res Rep 23, 52–8

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

Symonds, R P, 1992 Rhenish wares. Fine dark coloured pottery from Gaul and Germany, Oxford Univ Comm Archaeol Monogr 23

Vilvorder, F, 1999 Les productions de céramiques engobées et métallescentes dans l’est de la France, la Rhénanie et de la rive droite du Rhon, in Céramiques engobées et métallescentes gallo-romaines (eds R Brulet, R P Symonds & F Vilvorder), RCRF Acta Suppl. 8, 69-122

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

Plate 43: Fresh sherd break of MOS BS (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 43: Fresh sherd break of MOS BS (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 43.1: Photomicrograph of MOS BS (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 43.1: Photomicrograph of MOS BS (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

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