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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


Rossington Bridge Fabrics

Rossington Bridge is one of a number of kiln sites forming a definable industry in south Yorkshire. It produced grey ware, BB1, mortaria and a number of finer wares. BB1 and Fine Reduced ware are included here; although the mortaria had a distribution outside the local area, it was not possible to obtain samples from these vessels.

Rossington Bridge Black-burnished ware 1 (ROS BB 1)

Three samples

General appearance

The fabric is grey to dark grey (5/0–3/0) with a dark grey to black surface. It is hard with a hackly fracture and rough feel. Lustrous burnishing appears in narrow horizontal facets. The fabric may be difficult to separate macroscopically from Dorset products but it tends, in Buckland’s (1980, 152) opinion, to be a little less black in the fresh break. Although the handmade vessel forms are generally similar to Dorset BB1, Williams (1977, 194) points out that the wider lattice pattern on the Gillam 133 cooking pot and thinner ‘scratch’ lattice on the bowls and dishes, particularly Gillam 316 and 318, distinguishes Rossington Bridge from Dorset.

Hand specimen

Overall the inclusions are well sorted (0.3–0.5mm). Abundant quartz dominates and is sometimes the only visible inclusion, occasionally ranging to 1.2mm. All others are sparse, and include fine silver mica, matrix-coloured clay pellets (0.5–1.0mm) and black iron-rich grains. Williams (1977, 194) notes less sand temper in the Rossington Bridge products than the Dorset ones, and of course the characteristic shale inclusions present in Dorset BB1 are absent.

Thin section

This is a well-sorted fabric (primarily 0.15–0.4mm) with a clean clay matrix comprising rare silt-sized quartz and muscovite mica. Abundant monocrystalline and polycrystalline quartz, common coarse flint-like inclusions and rare quartzite, opaques and feldspar may measure up to 0.7mm. Common fine-grained sandstone (sometimes felspathic or finer graded as siltstone) and clay pellets (0.5–1.0mm) are diagnostic. In thin section the fabric is readily distinguished from Dorset BB1 by the absence of shale and the presence of sandstone. Williams (1977, 178) included Rossington Bridge in his heavy mineral analysis of black-burnished wares, and the suite is therefore available for future comparison of additional Rossington Bridge samples.


South Yorkshire is the only major centre so far recognised outside south-west England which produced vessels classifiable as BB1. Most of the south Yorkshire BB1 known at present is associated with the Rossington Bridge kilns, though small quantities occur in some Cantley groups (Buckland 1980, 156–7).


Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery


Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery


Buckland, P C, Magilton, J R, & Dolby, M J, 1980 The Roman pottery industry of south Yorkshire: a review, Britannia 11, 145–64

Farrar, R A H, 1973 The techniques and sources of Romano-British black-burnished ware, in Current research in Romano-British coarse pottery (ed A P Detsicas), CBA Res Rep 10, 67–103

Gillam, J P, 1970 Types of Roman coarse pottery vessels in northern Britain (3rd ed)

Gillam, J P, 1976 Coarse fumed ware in northern Britain and beyond, Glasgow Archaeol J 4, 57–80

Williams, D F, 1977 The Romano-British black-burnished industry: an essay on characterization by heavy mineral analysis, in Pottery and early commerce. Characterization and trade in Roman and later Ceramics (ed D P S Peacock), 163–220

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

Plate 168: Fresh sherd break of ROS BB 1 (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 168: Fresh sherd break of ROS BB 1 (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 168.1: Photomicrograph of ROS BB 1 (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 168.1: Photomicrograph of ROS BB 1 (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)