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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


South Devon (Micaceous) Reduced ware (SOD RE)

Five samples

General appearance

Holbrook and Bidwell (1991, 177) describe the ware as ‘generally wheel-thrown, except for storage jars, in a highly distinctive fabric with frequent mica plates. The surface colour ranges from yellow-buff through buff-brown to grey and black, although reduced fabrics are normally in the majority’. Our samples are mostly dark grey to black (near 3/0) in the break, occasionally with red-brown or brown-grey (5YR 6/8) margins. Surfaces are dark grey (5/0) or black (3/0), sometimes with a brown or pink cast to them. The fabric is hard, the fracture hackly and the feel rough. During the earliest phases the industry is characterised by storage jars and bowls, but from the 2nd century onwards BB1-type bowls, dishes and jars are characteristic.

Hand specimen

Overall the inclusions are ill sorted, ranging up to 2.2mm but not normally exceeding 1.0mm. Quartz is abundant, generally 0.3–1.0mm; mica (average <0.2mm) and feldspar (average 0.5–1.0mm) are common; rocks and accessory minerals are sparse (0.2–0.7mm). Frequent plates of mica, up to 1.0mm, are visible on the surface, and these initially appear gold but turn black as their surface is rotated.

Thin section

This sample contains abundant ill-sorted subangular grains (up to 1.3mm) of quartz and altered alkali feldspar. Flakes of biotite measuring up to 0.9mm are common. Occasional plutonic rock fragments composed of these minerals are also present. Minor components include pleochroic grey-green tourmaline up to 1.0mm and opaques.


Although not known from kilns, the distribution of the fabric, in conjunction with its distinctive petrology, support a source in south Devon, ‘near the river valleys draining from Dartmoor, perhaps the Dart of the Erme’ (Bidwell 1991, 177). Wood considers the type distinct from micaceous wares identified in London (ibid, 181).


Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter


Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter


Bidwell, P T, & Silvester, R J, 1988 The Roman pottery, in Mount Batten, Plymouth (B W Cunliffe), 42–9

Holbrook, N, & Bidwell, P T, 1991 Roman finds from Exeter, Exeter Archaeol Rep 4

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

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

Plate 99: Fresh sherd break of SOD RE (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 99: Fresh sherd break of SOD RE (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 99.1: Photomicrograph of SOD RE (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 99.1: Photomicrograph of SOD RE (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

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