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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


New Forest Fabrics

Three main fabrics can be identified within this industry: the first has a distinct metallic colour coat and fused matrix, while the other two are fine and coarse quartz-rich wares with a variety of surface treatments. When produced in different fabrics, mortaria are united by similar trituration grits, predominantly of flint. Although a unslipped reduced ware was also produced in the New Forest, it is not included here.

The groupings devised here differ somewhat from those presented by Fulford (1975a, 24–6). Our divisions are based primarily on inclusion size, rather than matrix colour, since a wide variety and continuum is present. We have however separated the ‘metallic’ colour-coated wares, on technological grounds. Despite different fabric groupings, we have cross-referenced our groups to Fulford’s fabric and form series, although more than twenty years since its publication the form repertoire will now undoubtedly be more thoroughly understood.


This industry is well attested by nucleated kilns throughout the New Forest, with kilns known from a variety of sites including Ashley Rails/Pitts Wood, Islands Thorns, Crock Hill, Amberwood, Sloden and Linwood (Fulford 1975a).


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


Dorset County Museum, Dorchester; Department of Prehistoric & Romano-British Antiquities, The British Museum; Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, Salisbury; Winchester Museums Archaeology Section


Fulford, M G, 1975a The pottery, in Excavations at Portchester Castle 1: Roman (B Cunliffe), Rep Res Comm Soc Antiq London 32, 270–367

Fulford, M G, 1975b New Forest Roman pottery: manufacture and distribution with a corpus of the pottery types, BAR 17

Light, A, 1983 A Romano-British waster-heap at Allen’s Farm, Rockbourne, Proc Hampshire Field Club Archaeol Soc 39, 69–76

Swan, V G, 1971 The structure of Romano-British New Forest pottery kilns, Antiquity 45, 45–8

New Forest (Metallic) Colour-coated ware (NFO CC)

Six samples

General appearance

These samples have a distinctively fused grey or pale grey (6/0–4/0) matrix with metallic, maroon (10R 3/3–3/4) slip. Occasionally the clay is more brown (10YR 3/1–3/2) or grey-brown (10YR 4/1–4/2, 10YR 5/1), and may be banded on the inside surface. Rare examples have a pale brown (10YR 5/4) core. In some cases the slip is overfired to khaki (2.5Y 3/1). Beakers, flasks and jugs are common (Fulford 1975a, types 1–58 – almost exclusively beakers), frequently rouletted and sometimes decorated with cream or white (10YR 5/1–4/1) painted decoration. It is an exceptionally hard fabric with a smooth to conchoidal fracture and smooth to rough surfaces. Although a single mortarium sherd was included in this group, it is likely to result from the overfiring of another slipped fabric.

Hand specimen

This fabric belongs to Fulford’s (1975a, 24–5) Fabric 1a. The highly fired matrix, resulting in a fused clay, makes it difficult to identify individual inclusions. However, well-sorted common quartz predominates (<0.3mm) followed by sparse but characteristic ill-sorted black inclusions, frequently rounded and usually measuring 0.1–0.2mm sometimes to 2.0mm, and milky rock inclusions to c 1.5mm.

Thin section

This sample contains abundant well-sorted silt-sized quartz and common larger grains (sometimes including flint and polycrystalline quartz) measuring c 0.1–0.15mm and set in an isotropic matrix. Common ovoid or rounded opaques and organic inclusions measuring c 0.1–1.5mm (frequently present as voids) are diagnostic of the fabric; matrix-coloured clay pellets are rare. Occasional translocated clay is also present.

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

Plate 115: Fresh sherd break of NFO CC (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 115: Fresh sherd break of NFO CC (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 115.1: Photomicrograph of NFO CC (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 115.1: Photomicrograph of NFO CC (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)