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The National Roman Fabric Reference Collection: a Handbook

Hand specimen picture panel
Thin section picture panel

References

Appendix 1: Keywords and Definitions
Appendix 2: Physical Layout of Sherds Housed in the NRFRC

 

?Spanish White ware (SPA WH)

Four samples

The fabric refers only to mortaria.

General appearance

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).

Hand specimen

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.

Thin section

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.

Source

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).

Donors

Bath Archaeological Trust; Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter

Museums

Roman Baths Museums, Bath; Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter

References

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

Plate 59a: Fresh sherd break of SPA WH (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 59a: Fresh sherd break of SPA WH (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 59b: Trituration grits on SPA WH (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 59b: Trituration grits on SPA WH (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 59.1: Photomicrograph of SPA WH (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 59.1: Photomicrograph of SPA WH (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

Plate 59.2: Photomicrograph of trituration grits on SPA WH (XPL) (width of field 3.5 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 59.2: Photomicrograph of trituration grits on SPA WH (XPL) (width of field 3.5 mm)


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