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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


Oxford Fabrics

A variety of fabrics and surface treatments were produced by the large industry at Oxford. For our purposes they have been divided into Fine Reduced, Parchment, Red-slipped, White and White-slipped wares. However, there are underlying similarities in fabric for these different surface treatments, with the Red- and White-slipped and to a lesser degree Fine Reduced wares essentially utilising the same fabric, and the Parchment and White wares also united in fabric.


The various nucleated workshops belonging to the Oxford industry remain one of the most extensively excavated of the Romano-British potteries and include numerous kiln sites of which Churchill Hospital is one of the better known (Young 1977), and Lower Farm Nuneham the most recently excavated (Booth 1993).


Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford; Oxford Archaeological Unit; Oxfordshire County Museum, Woodstock


Booth, P, 1993 The pottery, in A Romano-British kiln site at Lower Farm Nuneham Courtney, and other sites on the Didcot to Oxford and Wooton to Abingdon water mains, Oxfordshire (P Booth, A Boyle & G D Keevill), Oxoniensia 58, 87–217

Green, S, 1983 The Roman pottery-manufacturing site at Between Towns Road, Cowley, Oxford, Oxoniensia 48, 1–12

Young, C J, 1977 Oxfordshire Roman pottery, BAR 43

Oxford Fine Reduced ware (OXF FR)

Three samples

General appearance

Although this fabric is similar to OXF WS and OXF RS, it is separated due to its reduced state. Young (1977, 202–30) described a range of reduced wares, but only the fine fabric which produced ‘London-type’ wares, some with compass-scribed decoration, is included here (probably Young’s fabric 3). The samples are pale grey to grey (6/0–5/0), sometimes with a brown (5YR 5/4) margin or core and darker (4/0–3/0) surfaces. The three sherds represented here are from the kilns at Nuneham Courtney: all have a smooth fracture and abraded surfaces, and are therefore typically soft and powdery, but harder products are known (P Booth, pers comm)

Hand specimen

This is a fine sparsely micaceous (silver) clay with well-sorted inclusions. Sparse silt-sized quartz is present, as are sparse larger quartz grains, to 1.0mm, which are particularly visible on the surface. Recurring inclusions are normally silt-sized, but may rarely measure to 0.4mm, and comprise sparse black iron-rich inclusions and matrix-coloured clay pellets in some, but not all, samples.

Thin section

Petrologically this is identical to samples described below for OXF RS and OXF WS.


Oxford Archaeological Unit

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

Plate 144: Fresh sherd break of OXF FR (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 144: Fresh sherd break of OXF FR (width of field 24 mm)