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The National Roman Fabric Reference Collection: a Handbook

Hand specimen picture panel
Thin section picture panel

References

Appendix 1: Keywords and Definitions
Appendix 2: Physical Layout of Sherds Housed in the NRFRC

 

Rhineland White ware (RHL WH)

Six samples

At present this common name refers only to mortaria. Little is known about the various German potteries and fabrics, and numerous fabrics can be attributed to this area. The samples included here macroscopically appear to form one reasonably consistent and well-defined fabric grouping generally attributable to the Rhineland, but in thin section three different fabrics have been identified.

General appearance

The colour of these sherds is in the cream-buff (10YR 8/2, 5YR 7/3) range, often with a pink (10R 6/6) or pale grey (6/0) core, occasionally orange-brown (5YR 7/6). Surfaces, too, are usually cream and show wiping marks. The fresh break reveals an irregular fracture, while the feel varies from harsh to smooth. The fabric is normally associated with a deep flange pressed close to the wall to make a deep collar with grooved rim, often with the bead folded down over the trituration grits.

Hand specimen

Overall the inclusions are reasonably well sorted and reflect both gold and silver light, although there is no obvious mica in thin section. The inclusions are dominated by abundant quartz, mainly 0.1–0.3mm but ranging up to 2.5mm. In some samples the quartz shows two discrete distributions consisting of a coarse fraction (0.4–1.0mm) set in a fine groundmass (<0.1mm). A broad range of other inclusions is present in smaller quantities, variable from sherd to sherd: red-brown and black iron-rich grains (<0.3mm); red-brown, grey and white ?clay pellets, often quartz rich and up to 2.5mm; feldspar (0.5mm), and calcareous material (to c 1.0mm). Trituration grits are abundant well-sorted and densely packed quartz, normally 0.5–1.5mm with occasional grains to 2.5mm. Our fabric is similar to those described from Brancaster (Hartley 1985c, 99–100) and some from Exeter (Hartley 1991a, 190).

Thin section

Three samples were examined and despite their macroscopic similarities were distinct in thin section. Each is therefore described separately below.

BM registration no. P1995.7-14.16: An isotropic calcareous clay, with abundant subangular ill-sorted quartz up to 2.0mm, but typically of silt to fine-sand grade. Brown microcrystalline calcareous material is common, and occurs as angular silt-grade fragments to rounded aggregates up to 2.0mm.

BM registration no. P1995.7-14.17: A clay containing abundant ill-sorted subangular to subrounded quartz, ranging from silt to coarse-sand grade.

BM registration no. P1995.7-14.18: An isotropic clay matrix, in which fine calcareous material is unevenly distributed. Common subangular grains of silt to medium sand-grade quartz are the main aplastic components of the ceramic fabric. Trituration grits consist of medium to coarse-grained sand, mainly quartz (with a little chert) and brown fine-grained calcite.

Source

A Rhineland source is proposed on the basis of vessel distribution. Soller is one likely source (Haupt 1984, taf 172, 183).

Donors

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter; Museum of London

Museums

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter; Museum of London; Norfolk Museums Service; York Archaeological Trust

References

Darling, M J, 1993 The Roman pottery, in Caister-on-Sea: excavations by Charles Green 1951–1955 (M Darling with D Gurney) East Anglian Archaeol 60, 153–218

Hartley, K F, 1985c The mortarium fabrics and The mortaria, in Excavations at Brancaster 1974 and 1977 (J Hinchliffe with C S Green), East Anglian Archaeol 23, 98–100 and 116–23

Hartley, K F, 1991a Mortaria, in Roman finds from Exeter (N Holbrook & P T Bidwell), Exeter Archaeol Rep 4, 189–215

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

Plate 57a: Fresh sherd break of RHL WH (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 57a: Fresh sherd break of RHL WH (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 57b: Trituration grits on RHL WH (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 57b: Trituration grits on RHL WH (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 57.1: Photomicrograph of RHL WH (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm) Sample 1995.7-14.16. Click to see a larger version

Plate 57.1: Photomicrograph of RHL WH (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm) Sample 1995.7-14.16

Plate 57.2: Photomicrograph of RHL WH (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm) Sample 1995.7-14.17. Click to see a larger version

Plate 57.2: Photomicrograph of RHL WH (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm) Sample 1995.7-14.17

Plate 57.3: Photomicrograph of trituration grits on RHL WH (PPL) (width of field 1.74 mm) Sample 1995.7-11.100. Click to see a larger version

Plate 57.3: Photomicrograph of trituration grits on RHL WH (PPL) (width of field 1.74 mm) Sample 1995.7-11.100


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