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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


Romano-British Mica-dusted ware (ROB MD)

Single sample

This fabric is included to provide another example of a mica-dusted ware.

General appearance

Our sample is red-brown (2.5YR 5/8) with orange-brown (near 5YR 5/6) surfaces or, where mica dusted, orange-bronze (near 5YR 6/6–5/6). The sherd is hard with a hackly fracture and harsh surfaces. The beaker associated with this fabric is a distinctive form with bossed decoration (Rigby 1989b, fig 34) and is similar to that produced at Braives (Gustin 1985, fig 31). Our fabric however is much coarser and a different colour from the Braives one.

Hand specimen

The fabric is dominated by abundant well-sorted silt-sized quartz with regular larger grains to 0.3mm, occasionally to 0.5mm. Amongst the larger grains feldspar can also be identified. Gold mica is visible on the surface although not in fresh fracture and, while normally fused and therefore difficult to measure, individual grains up to 0.5mm can be identified. Other inclusions are sparse black and red-brown iron-rich fragments (0.2–0.4mm).

Thin section

Under the petrological microscope a clean sparsely micaceous (muscovite) matrix is visible. It contains abundant well-sorted angular quartz c 0.5–1.5mm and less frequent subrounded larger inclusions to c 0.3mm or rarely larger. In addition, sparse opaques and rare flint, polycrystalline quartz, quartzite, sandstone and feldspar are present. Some composite grains of quartz and feldspar can also be identified.


No source area can be suggested for this fabric.


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




Gustin, M, 1985 La céramique dorée, in Braives gallo-romain: 3. La zone périphérique occidentale (R Brulet), Publications d’histoire d’art et d’archéologie de l’Université Catholique de Louvain 46, 72–3, Louvain-la-Neuve

Rigby, V, 1989b Roman pottery from the settlement, in Verulamium. The King Harry Lane site (I M Stead & V Rigby), Engl Heritage Archaeol Rep 12, 68

Plate 176: Fresh sherd break of ROB MD (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 176: Fresh sherd break of ROB MD (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 176.1: Photomicrograph of ROB MD (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 176.1: Photomicrograph of ROB MD (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

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