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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

 

Crambeck Fabrics

Four basic fabrics were utilised by the Crambeck industry, and three of them – parchment, white and reduced wares, are widespread in the north of England and are represented in the reference collection. The fourth fabric, an oxidised one, was confined to a limited range of forms, seemingly with a more restricted distribution than the others and therefore not included here. The Reduced ware was used for a range of bowls and dishes, but not for mortaria, while what is here defined as White ware was probably used exclusively for mortaria. Finally, the Parchment ware was used for a range of bowls, dishes and mortaria. The White ware can be regarded as a coarser, unpainted version of the Parchment ware, as presented in Evans’ (1989, 54–5) schema.

Hand specimen

All the Crambeck fabrics are united by a fine clay matrix with sparse silver mica containing varying quantities of quartz and iron-rich inclusions, while the mortaria have slag trituration grits.

Thin section

Under the polarising microscope, all the Crambeck samples share a fine (<0.1mm) matrix containing common to abundant angular quartz, rare polycrystalline quartz and feldspar, and common to rare opaques. Muscovite mica is present in variable quantities in all samples. Larger inclusions vary somewhat between the different surfaces and are described below. Abundant slag trituration grits measure c 1.0-3.0mm.

Source

Production is attested to at Crambeck where four kilns have been excavated (Evans 1989).

Donor

York Archaeological Trust

Museums

Corbridge Roman Site Museum; Malton Museum; Scunthorpe Museum and Art Gallery; Yorkshire Museum, York

References

Corder, P, 1928 The Roman pottery at Crambeck, Castle Howard, Roman Malton and District Report 1

Corder, P, 1937 A pair of fourth century Romano-British pottery kilns near Crambeck, Antiq J 17, 392–413

Evans, J, 1986 Aspects of later Roman pottery assemblages in northern England, Unpublished PhD, University of Bradford

Evans, J, 1989 Crambeck; the development of a major northern pottery industry, in The Crambeck Roman pottery industry (ed P R Wilson), 43–90

Hartley, K F, 1985e Mortaria, in The Roman fort of Vindolanda at Chesterholm, Northumberland (P T Bidwell), 182, 184 and microfiche

Hartley, K F, 1995b Mortaria, in Excavations at York Minster 1 (D Phillips & B Heywood), 304–23

Monaghan, J, 1997 Roman pottery from York, Archaeology of York. The Pottery 16/8

Crambeck Parchment ware (CRA PA)

Three samples

General appearance

The fabric is off-white or cream-yellow (2.5Y 8/2, 10YR 8/3), sometimes with a slip of the same colour or slightly yellower (7.5YR 7/6) applied to parts of the external surface. Where slipped, the surfaces are wiped and burnished and any painted decoration, on both internal and external surfaces, is red-brown (10R 5/8) in colour. It is a hard fabric – sometimes referred to as nearly a ‘stoneware’ – with smooth fracture and smooth feel.

Hand specimen

This variant is generally very fine with few visible inclusions. One sample contains common well-sorted larger quartz (<0.2mm), while red or orange iron-rich inclusions can be seen in varying quantities from absent to sparse, sometimes ill sorted and measuring up to 0.5mm. Trituration grits on the mortaria are abundant, densely-packed and well-sorted slag – normally black but occasionally red-brown – averaging 2.0–4.0mm, but ranging between 1.5–5.5mm.

Thin section

Two samples in this group were examined. They conform to the general description with common fine quartz inclusions: in one sample rare quartz, including polycrystalline (to c 0.25mm), and clay pellets, normally quartz rich but sometimes quartz free and isotropic (to c 0.4mm), are also present. Rare redeposited carbonatre is also present.

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

Plate 164a: Fresh sherd break of CRA PA (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 164a: Fresh sherd break of CRA PA (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 164b: Trituration grits on CRA PA (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 164b: Trituration grits on CRA PA (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 164.1: Photomicrograph of CRA PA (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 164.1: Photomicrograph of CRA PA (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

Plate 164.2: Photomicrograph of trituration grits on CRA PA (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 164.2: Photomicrograph of trituration grits on CRA PA (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)


Crambeck Reduced ware (CRA RE)

Four samples

General appearance

The most distinctive feature of this fabric is the contrast between the colour of the break and the surfaces: the break is a very pale, sometimes slightly green-grey to more or less white (8/0, 5Y 8/1–7/1), while the surfaces are at least three Munsell values darker, as medium bordering on dark grey (5/0–4/0). The fabric is hard with a smooth fracture and a rough/powdery feel. Evans (1989, 55) distinguishes the fracture as lacking ‘the crisp, brittle fracture of many Norton products and some of the Throlam kiln material’. The surfaces show wiping marks, and are sometimes burnished externally.

Hand specimen

Inclusions are generally well sorted and fine with grains measuring 0.1–0.2mm as seen on Plate 165, although occasional samples are restricted to the finest range (<0.1mm). Quartz is usually abundant and is set in a sparsely micaceous (silver) matrix. Also present are red or black iron-rich grains, up to 0.5mm and, less frequently, matrix-coloured or brown clay pellets up to 1.0mm, and fine limestone fragments.

Thin section

In this sample quartz is abundant and commonly measures to 0.15mm. No limestone or clay pellets are visible.

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

Plate 165: Fresh sherd break of CRA RE (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 165: Fresh sherd break of CRA RE (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 165.1: Photomicrograph of CRA RE (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 165.1: Photomicrograph of CRA RE (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)


Crambeck White ware (CRA WH)

Single sample

General appearance

The fabric is usually pale cream (5Y 8/1) with a cream (2.5Y 8/2) surface, but it can range to pale orange-buff (7.5YR 8/6) with an orange (5YR 7/8) surface. It is hard with an irregular fracture and a rough feel. Corder Type 6 mortaria are one of the most common forms within this fabric type.

Hand specimen

The composition, relative proportion and texture of the inclusions is most similar to that of the Reduced ware, with slightly coarser and common quartz (usually 0.2–0.3mm but up to 0.4mm). It is distinguished from the Parchment ware by its greater sand-sized content. The trituration grits are as described for Crambeck Parchment ware.

Thin section

This sample contains common subrounded quartz grains to c 0.35mm set in the normal Crambeck matrix.

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

Plate 165.2: Photomicrograph of CRA WH (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 165.2: Photomicrograph of CRA WH (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

Plate 165.3: Photomicrograph of trituration grits on CRA WH (XPL) (width of field 3.5 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 165.3: Photomicrograph of trituration grits on CRA WH (XPL) (width of field 3.5 mm)


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