Here, this fabric refers only to the mortaria. Our samples, from vessels stamped by Vediacus, are typical of one fabric produced in the Upper Nene Valley, but do not belong to the most common one.The more typical UNV fabric is difficult to distinguish from those produced at Mancetter/Hartshill.
Our samples are white to cream (10YR 8/1) with a pale grey (7/0) core, poorly defined pale red margins and a pale yellow surface (2.5YR 8/2). They are very hard, have a hackly fracture, a tendency to laminate, and a rough feel. Wiping marks are visible on the surfaces. At Ecton, two main mortarium forms were produced: a bead-and-curved-flange vessel, and a quasi-hammerhead divided into three sections (Johnston 1969, fig 6, nos M12, 21, 25).
The inclusions in this fabric are ill sorted and quite coarse. Quartz is common and normally measures between 0.2–0.3mm, with grains up to 0.6mm. The remaining inclusions are sparse, with fine red-brown and black iron-rich grains (usually 0.3–0.5mm but up to 1.0mm) and larger ?grog and white clay pellets (1.0–3.0mm). Although frequently not preserved, where present, trituration grits usually comprise a mixture of quartz, flint and slag. Our sherd has been heavily used but the grits are still visible. However, they are exceptional for 2nd century UNV products in being composed entirely of common ill-sorted grains of angular black slag ranging in size from 0.5–4.0mm, although most are small – only 1.0–2.0mm.
This section has an isotropic clay, containing rare silt and common larger quartz grains, frequently 0.3mm but up to c 0.5mm. Other inclusions comprise opaques and clay pellets, both rounded quartz-rich and iron-rich, and more angular matrix-coloured ones, ranging in size between 0.5–2.0mm. Limestone is rare and there is also redeposited carbonate. Trituration grits are composed of slag, normally 1.0–1.5mm.
Mortaria were made in the kilns at Ecton (Johnston 1969, 89–92), but undoubtedly a larger number of production sites were involved.
Upper Nene Archaeological Society
Northampton Museum (Ecton kilns)
Hartley, K F, 1980 Mortaria, in Excavations in Park Street, Towcester (G Lambrick), Northamptonshire Archaeol 15, 77–9
Hartley, K F, 1982 Mortaria, in Excavations at Towcester 1954: the Grammar School site (A E Brown & J A Alexander), Northamptonshire Archaeol 17, 34–5
Hartley, K F, 1983 Mortaria, in Excavations at Towcester, Northants: the Alcester Road suburb (A E Brown, C Woodfield & D C Mynard), Northamptonshire Archaeol 18, 72–3
Hartley, K F, 1984b Vediacus, in The mortarium stamps, in Verulamium excavations 3 (S S Frere), Oxford Univ Comm Archaeol Monogr 1, 289
Johnston, D E, 1969 Romano-British pottery kilns near Northampton, Antiq J 49, 75–97
Rollo, L, 1994 Iron Age & Roman Piddington: the mortaria, Upper Nene Archaeol Soc Fasc 2