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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


Spanish Colour-coated ware (SPA CC)

Three samples

General appearance

Greene (1979, 65) has described the ware as ‘very fine, varying in colour from pale buff to brown or orange-brown . . . The colour-coating is usually of a similar colour to the fabric. It may vary from yellow-brown to chestnut-brown or orange-brown. It is frequently very glossy and usually very consistent over the whole surface of the vessel.’ Our samples have a very pale pink-brown (5YR 8/3-8/4) fabric and orange-brown (5YR 6/8) slip, characteristically slightly blotchy, with a metallic cast. They are hard with a smooth or conchoidal fracture and a smooth feel. A range of forms, from cups to taller beakers was produced in this ware, with barbotine (floral and geometric) the most usual decorative technique.

Hand specimen

The fabric displays some variety in texture, but generally a fine clay matrix is speckled with red or brown iron-rich inclusions and in some samples limestone (<0.1mm). These inclusions occasionally occur as larger grains to c 0.5mm, as does sparse quartz. Sparse silver and even less gold mica is also visible.

Thin section

This is a fine micaceous clay containing common brown and white mica in an isotropic matrix. The groundmass includes sparse silt-sized quartz as well as opaques and iron-rich pellets. Larger fragments comprise sparse to rare iron-rich inclusions as described, quartz (some polycrystalline), chert, feldspar and micaceous siltstone, normally c 0.1mm, but up to 0.3mm.


A Baetican source has been generally accepted (Greene 1979, 71), despite the lack of kiln evidence. Recent work illustrates that the ware was produced throughout Spain, but vessel forms reaching Britain were primarily from Baetica (Beltrán Lloris 1990, fig 90).


Museum of London


Colchester Museums; Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter; Department of Greek & Roman Antiquities, The British Museum; Museum of London; Richborough Castle; Museo Arqueológic, Barcelona (Spain)


Beltrán Lloris, M, 1990 Guía de la cerámica Romana, Zaragoza

Greene, K, 1979 Report on the excavations from Usk 1965–1976. The pre-Flavian finewares

Greene, K, 1991 Pre-Flavian fine wares, in Roman finds from Exeter (N Holbrook & P T Bidwell), Exeter Archaeol Rep 4, 72–5

Mayet, F, 1975 Les céramiques à parois fines dans la péninsule Ibérique, Paris

Puerta I López, C, 1989 Baetulo. Céramica de parets fines, Monografies Badalonines 11, Badalona

SFECAG, 1986 Actes du Congrès de Toulouse (various papers)

Vegas, M, 1973 Cerámica común Romana del Mediterráneo Occidental, Publicaciones Eventuales 22, Barcelona

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

Plate 47: Fresh sherd break of SPA CC (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 47: Fresh sherd break of SPA CC (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 47.1: Photomicrograph of SPA CC (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 47.1: Photomicrograph of SPA CC (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

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