Four separate surface treaments which utilised essentially the same clay body are here defined as Oxidised, Red-slipped, White-slipped and Colour-coated ware. Mortaria were produced with oxidised, red-slipped and white-slipped surfaces, while colourcoated wares include beakers, roughcast beakers and bowls. Although production took place from the 1st century, only the 2nd century fabrics are likely to have had a more than strictly local distribution (K Hartley, pers comm).
The body colour of all variants is usually orange-brown (2.5YR 6/8, 5YR 7/8), or occasionally redder (10R 5/6). Sherds are hard with a smooth fracture and smooth feel. The fabric deteriorates rapidly in unfavourable soil conditions once the slip has abraded.
Fabric variants are united by a fine, silty micaceous matrix, containing primarily silver (but some gold) mica, with principal inclusions of fine quartz and iron-rich grains. Mortaria are characterised by abundant, angular milky quartz (many polycrystalline) trituration grits. Trituration grits are present on our samples of CAR OX, but not CAR WS or RS, although they are thought to be the same for all surface treatments. The Caerleon trituration grits are similar to those seen on Holt mortaria, but on our particular sample the Caerleon ones are smaller and more densely packed than for Holt.
Two samples from this group were examined in thin section, an oxidised and colour-coated one. Their fabrics are readily characterised by a fine intensely micaceous clay containing abundant silt-sized quartz and muscovite and brown mica. Also common are a variety of ferruginous pellets, normally <0.5mm, although clay pellets may be larger. Sparse inclusions of larger quartz (some polycrystalline) and small flint fragments are also present. Trituration grits of monocrystalline and polycrystalline quartz typically measure between 1.0-2.0mm.
Pottery waste associated with a kiln is known approximately two to three kilometres north-east of Caerleon. The overall picture from south Wales suggests that there may have been localised production of the red-slipped mortaria elsewhere in the region (K Hartley, pers comm).
National Museum of Wales
National Museum of Wales
Boon, G C, 1966 Legionary ware at Caerleon, Archaeol Cambrensis 115, 45–66
Greep, S J, 1986 The coarse pottery, in The legionary fortress baths at Caerleon 2. The finds (J D Zienkiewicz), 50–96
Hartley, K F, 1993a The mortaria, in Report on the excavations at Usk 1965–1976. The Roman pottery (ed W H Manning), 389–425
Nash-Williams, V E, 1932 The Roman legionary fortress at Caerleon in Monmouthshire. Report on the excavations carried out in the Prysg Field, 1927–9. Part III, Archaeol Cambrensis 87, 265–349
Webster, P V, 1992 Roman pottery in south-east Wales: an introduction, J Roman Pottery Stud 5, 111–21
Slip colour varies from red-brown (10R 5/8) to orange-brown (2.5YR 5/6, 5YR 6/8) and is often patchy with run marks evident.
The inclusion suite varies in both size and sorting. At best little more than silt-grade material with sparse mica and black iron-rich grains (<0.1mm) is visible (Plate 170). In coarser examples, there is a scatter of larger quartz, <0.2mm or occasionally 0.5mm, and the iron-rich grains may measure up to 1.5mm. Roughcasting, when it occurs, is of clay particles c 1.0mm in size.
Our sherd has common fine mica, sparse well-sorted rounded quartz, and red-brown and brown iron-rich grains (0.1–0.2mm). Occasional large grains of quartz sandstone (to c 1.2mm) are also present. The trituration grits are abundant well-sorted angular milky quartz (some polycrystalline), measuring between 1.0–4.0mm.
The single example is orange-brown (2.5YR 6/8) with a red-brown (10R 6/8) core and smooth slip in the same colour as the clay body.
Ill-sorted quartz (up to 0.5mm) is common, while the remaining inclusions of fine mica and red-brown clay pellets (0.5–1.5mm) are sparse.
Our example has a white (5YR 8/1) slip.
The inclusions in this sherd are more restricted than for the other examples of Caerleon ware included here, consisting only of common ill-sorted pink-brown clay pellets, usually measuring between 0.5–1.0mm, together with sparse fine silver mica.