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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


Upchurch Fine Reduced ware (UPC FR)

Five samples

General appearance

In this fabric the break is usually composed of sandwiched layers or margins of darker and lighter grey (6/0–4/0) or grey and orange (2.5YR 5/4). Some examples however have a well-defined black core which look very similar to Lincoln Market Rasen Fine Reduced ware. Surfaces are usually dark grey (5/0–4/0) or black and may be burnished or slipped, and decorated with rows of barbotine dots. When burnished, the surface is usually smooth, even and semi-lustrous. The fabric is hard and the fracture smooth. A wide variety of vessel forms was made.

Hand specimen

Inclusions are generally well sorted and measure <0.2mm in a sparsely micaceous (silver) clay. Only quartz is common, with red and black iron-rich grains (0.1–0.8mm) and pale-coloured clay pellets (0.2–2.0mm) routinely present but sparse. Our samples belong to Monaghan’s (1987, 252) fabric N1; a finer version of the ware (N2) comprises only silt-grade inclusions.

Thin section

Sparse well-sorted quartz, normally silt sized but occasionally <0.1mm, set in a slightly micaceous clay containing muscovite and less biotite mica is present. The fabric is distinguished by common large ill-sorted clay pellets and poorly mixed clay, sometimes opaque in part, up to 1.5mm. Silt-sized opaques and flint can also be identified.


A number of kilns on the Upchurch Marshes are known to have produced these fine reduced wares (Monaghan 1987, 22–8).


Guildhall Museum, Rochester


Royal Museum and Art Gallery, Canterbury; Department of Prehistoric & Romano-British Antiquities, The British Museum; Maidstone Museum; Guildhall Museum, Rochester


Monaghan, J, 1983 An investigation of the Romano-British pottery industry of the Upchurch marshes, Archaeol Cant 98, 27–49

Monaghan, J, 1987 Upchurch and Thameside Roman pottery. A ceramic typology for northern Kent, first to third centuries AD, BAR 173

Pollard, R J, 1988 The Roman pottery of Kent

Pollard, R J, 1995a The mid to late Roman pottery, in Excavations in the Marlowe Car Park and surrounding areas. Part 2: the finds (K Blockley, M Blockley, P Blockley, S S Frere & S Stow), The Archaeology of Canterbury 5, 690–736

Plate 139: Fresh sherd break of UPC FR (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 139: Fresh sherd break of UPC FR (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 139.1: Photomicrograph of UPC FR (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 139.1: Photomicrograph of UPC FR (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

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