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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

 

Central Gaulish Rhône Valley Fabrics

Two mortarium fabrics which are related in source area, general appearance, and probably overlapping in date, are included under this umbrella. Our sample of GLG OX differs somewhat from the standard CNG OX fabric, but vessels not included in the collection, one of which was examined in thin section, are virtually identical to CNG OX although still having the calcareous clay associated with GLG OX. It is likely that they are products of two different workshops active in the same area.


Central Gaulish (Rhône Valley) Oxidised ware (CNG OX)

Five samples

General appearance

Our samples are typically dull pink or pink-brown (5YR 6/4-7/4, 7.5YR 7/4), often with slightly paler surfaces. Hartley (pers comm) notes two different colour variants, one which is pink-brown, as our samples, and a second which is a brown-cream. It is hard, slightly powdery to the touch and has a smooth fracture through which coarse inclusions protrude. Concentric scoring is visible on the interior from the trituration grits, but the flange is never deliberately gritted, nor scored, and can be very smooth.The vessels belong to a restricted form (eg Hartley 1991a,TC 8–18, figs 78–80), which is never stamped.

Hand specimen

The clay matrix is usually fine, clean and micaceous, containing primarily gold mica. In the fresh fracture a sparse scatter of quite coarse ill-sorted inclusions, measuring between c 1.0–2.5mm, is visible: quartz (sometimes angular), angular feldspar (sometimes decomposed), frequently rounded and both light-coloured and redder rock fragments, and fewer accessory minerals, rarely to 1.0mm, can all be identified. Of these inclusions, feldspar and light-coloured rocks are the most distinctive. Silt-sized iron-rich inclusions are also present. Trituration grits present on the lower part of the vessel bottom are well sorted (to 4.5mm) and, like the break, varying in composition, consisting of common quartz and feldspar (sometimes decomposed) and sparse rocks. Large (c 1.0mm) flakes of gold mica are often visible on the interior surface.

Thin section

This sample comprises a clay matrix with low birefringence, containing common flakes of mica, up to 0.06mm, and sparse subangular grains of quartz silt. Sparse subangular granitic rock fragments up to 1.5mm, consisting of quartz and feldspar with or without biotite and disaggregated monomineralic grains of these minerals, are the main aplastic components.

Source

The petrology of this fabric conforms with the Massif Central region, and this has been proposed as a likely source area on petrological grounds (Williams 1993, 425). Tyers (1996, 130–1) has compared the British fabric with one from Vienne, an area of pottery production, and has suggested that the Vienne/Lyon area could be the source, which would be in keeping with the petrological evidence.

Donors

Bath Archaeological Trust; Museum of London

Museums

Roman Baths Museum, Bath; Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter; City Museum and Art Gallery, Gloucester; Museum of London

References

Davies, B J, Richardson, B, & Tomber, R S, 1994 The archaeology of Roman London 5. A dated corpus of early Roman pottery from the City of London, CBA Res Rep 98

Hartley, K F, 1985a The mortaria, in Kingsholm. Excavations at Kingsholm Close and other sites with a discussion of the archaeology of the area (H R Hurst), Gloucester Archaeol Rep 1, 55–93

Hartley, K F, 1991a Mortaria, in Roman finds from Exeter (N Holbrook & P T Bidwell), Exeter Archaeol Rep 4, 189–215

Hartley, K F, 1993b Mortaria [from the fortress], in Report on the excavations at Usk 1965–1976. The Roman pottery (ed W H Manning), 68–72

Tyers, P A, 1996 Roman pottery in Britain

Williams, D F, 1993 The petrology of mortarium fabrics 5, 6, 11 and 13, in Report on the excavations at Usk 1965–1976. The Roman pottery (ed W H Manning), 424–5

See the related record on the Atlas of Roman Pottery on the Potsherd website

Plate 49a: Fresh sherd break of CNG OX (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 49a: Fresh sherd break of CNG OX (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 49b: Trituration grits on CNG OX (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 49b: Trituration grits on CNG OX (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 49.1: Photomicrograph of CNG OX (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 49.1: Photomicrograph of CNG OX (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

Plate 49.2: Photomicrograph of trituration grits on CNG OX (PPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 49.2: Photomicrograph of trituration grits on CNG OX (PPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)


Gallia Lugdunensis Oxidised ware (GLG OX)

Single sample

General appearance

Our example is pale pink-brown (5YR 7/4) with surfaces showing wiping marks. It is soft with a smooth fracture and a powdery feel. The vessel is distinguished from that produced in CNG OX, not only in rim form and lack of internal concentric scoring, but also by being a stamped type.

Hand specimen

This fabric has a sparsely micaceous matrix of fine mica, primarily gold and less silver. The groundmass contains common fine well-sorted quartz (<0.1mm), and common black and red iron-rich grains. Set in this matrix is a sparse scatter of much larger angular to rounded quartz grains measuring 1.0–1.5mm. Trituration grits are sparse and normally measure between 2.0–3.0mm, with occasional fragments between 1.5–4.0mm. Aggregate quartz and red and white rock fragments are all present. No grits are extant on the remainder of our sherd and therefore no photograph is available here.

Thin section

A variegated calcareous clay matrix, containing common subangular grains of quartz-rich silt is visible. Fine flakes of mica up to 0.1mm are quite common in some areas of the slide. A few grains of subangular to subrounded quartzose sand are present, and one of these is a rock fragment composed of feldspar, quartz and fine aggregates of white mica. These may be included as trituration grits.

Source

Distribution indicates a source in the Lyon/Vienne area, and the type is rare elsewhere.

Donor

Southend-on-Sea Central Museum

Museums

Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter; City Museum and Art Gallery, Gloucester; Southend-on-Sea Central Museum

References

Bidwell, P T, 1979 The legionary bath-house and basilica and forum at Exeter, Exeter Archaeol Rep 1

Taylor, M V, & Collingwood, R G, 1922 (1924) Roman Britain in 1923, J Roman Stud 12, 261
Plate 50: Fresh sherd break of GLG OX (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 50: Fresh sherd break of GLG OX (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 50.1: Photomicrograph of GLG OX (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 50.1: Photomicrograph of GLG OX (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

Plate 50.2: Photomicrograph of trituration grits on GLG OX (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 50.2: Photomicrograph of trituration grits on GLG OX (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)


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