The fabric refers only to mortaria.
The fabric is cream to white (10YR 8/1, 10YR 8/3), sometimes with a pink or pale pink (2.5YR 8/4) core; exceptionally sherds may have a dark grey or grey-green (4/0, 2.5Y 8/2) core. Most sherds, but not our samples, as best described as grey-white (K Hartley, pers comm). Rough or harsh surfaces are self slipped to cream (10YR 8/3-8/4), although vessels not in the collection may have a brown surface (Hartley 1991a, 189). Generally samples are hard with a hackly fracture. All the vessels identified in this fabric have a distinct bead higher than the flange, in some cases described as ‘split’ (ibid, 194).
Our samples are variable, but generally comprise well-sorted inclusions. Rounded or subrounded quartz is abundant with most grains 0.3–0.5mm, although examples up to 1.5mm are visible. The clay matrix has sparse fine silver mica, together with sparse red-brown and black iron-rich grains (0.1–0.7mm), and even fewer white, quartz-rich clay pellets (c 1.0mm). Trituration grits are well-sorted, abundant quartz (including polycrystalline), mostly c 0.5–1.0mm but up to 3.0mm.
Two sections were made from this sample. The clay contains abundant ill-sorted subangular to subrounded quartz (some polycrystalline, weakly metamorphosed), which ranges from silt-grade material to very coarse sand; more than half falls in the fine to medium-sand range. The coarser grains (up to c 2.0mm) are certainly trituration grits, but the gradation from coarse to fine inclusions in the section makes it difficult to isolate the smaller trituration grits. Rare argillaceous inclusions measure up to 0.8mm. Occasional flakes of mica also occur.
No kilns are known for this fabric type. The probability of a ?Spanish source is based on its distribution in Britain and the attribution to Spain of fine wares of the same date found at Exeter. It is thought that the two may have travelled together (Hartley 1991a, 194). There is nothing distinctive about the fabric that would confirm or refute a Spanish source.
Note: A Spanish source for this mortarium is no longer supported and an unlocated source in western France is believed to be the most likely (Kay Hartley, pers. comm. 2017).
Bath Archaeological Trust; Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter
Roman Baths Museums, Bath; Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter
Hartley, K F, 1991a Mortaria, in Roman finds from Exeter (N Holbrook & P T Bidwell), Exeter Archaeol Rep 4, 189–215
Seager Smith, R, 1993 Mortaria, in Excavations at the Old Methodist Chapel and Greyhound Yard, Dorchester 1981–1984 (P J Woodward, S M Davies & A H Graham), Dorset Natur Hist Archaeol Soc Monogr Ser 12, 219–24