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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

 

New Forest Fabrics

Three main fabrics can be identified within this industry: the first has a distinct metallic colour coat and fused matrix, while the other two are fine and coarse quartz-rich wares with a variety of surface treatments. When produced in different fabrics, mortaria are united by similar trituration grits, predominantly of flint. Although a unslipped reduced ware was also produced in the New Forest, it is not included here.

The groupings devised here differ somewhat from those presented by Fulford (1975a, 24–6). Our divisions are based primarily on inclusion size, rather than matrix colour, since a wide variety and continuum is present. We have however separated the ‘metallic’ colour-coated wares, on technological grounds. Despite different fabric groupings, we have cross-referenced our groups to Fulford’s fabric and form series, although more than twenty years since its publication the form repertoire will now undoubtedly be more thoroughly understood.

Source

This industry is well attested by nucleated kilns throughout the New Forest, with kilns known from a variety of sites including Ashley Rails/Pitts Wood, Islands Thorns, Crock Hill, Amberwood, Sloden and Linwood (Fulford 1975a).

Donor

Department of Prehistoric & Romano-British Antiquities, The British Museum

Museums

Dorset County Museum, Dorchester; Department of Prehistoric & Romano-British Antiquities, The British Museum; Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, Salisbury; Winchester Museums Archaeology Section

References

Fulford, M G, 1975a The pottery, in Excavations at Portchester Castle 1: Roman (B Cunliffe), Rep Res Comm Soc Antiq London 32, 270–367

Fulford, M G, 1975b New Forest Roman pottery: manufacture and distribution with a corpus of the pottery types, BAR 17

Light, A, 1983 A Romano-British waster-heap at Allen’s Farm, Rockbourne, Proc Hampshire Field Club Archaeol Soc 39, 69–76

Swan, V G, 1971 The structure of Romano-British New Forest pottery kilns, Antiquity 45, 45–8


New Forest (Metallic) Colour-coated ware (NFO CC)

Six samples

General appearance

These samples have a distinctively fused grey or pale grey (6/0–4/0) matrix with metallic, maroon (10R 3/3–3/4) slip. Occasionally the clay is more brown (10YR 3/1–3/2) or grey-brown (10YR 4/1–4/2, 10YR 5/1), and may be banded on the inside surface. Rare examples have a pale brown (10YR 5/4) core. In some cases the slip is overfired to khaki (2.5Y 3/1). Beakers, flasks and jugs are common (Fulford 1975a, types 1–58 – almost exclusively beakers), frequently rouletted and sometimes decorated with cream or white (10YR 5/1–4/1) painted decoration. It is an exceptionally hard fabric with a smooth to conchoidal fracture and smooth to rough surfaces. Although a single mortarium sherd was included in this group, it is likely to result from the overfiring of another slipped fabric.

Hand specimen

This fabric belongs to Fulford’s (1975a, 24–5) Fabric 1a. The highly fired matrix, resulting in a fused clay, makes it difficult to identify individual inclusions. However, well-sorted common quartz predominates (<0.3mm) followed by sparse but characteristic ill-sorted black inclusions, frequently rounded and usually measuring 0.1–0.2mm sometimes to 2.0mm, and milky rock inclusions to c 1.5mm.

Thin section

This sample contains abundant well-sorted silt-sized quartz and common larger grains (sometimes including flint and polycrystalline quartz) measuring c 0.1–0.15mm and set in an isotropic matrix. Common ovoid or rounded opaques and organic inclusions measuring c 0.1–1.5mm (frequently present as voids) are diagnostic of the fabric; matrix-coloured clay pellets are rare. Occasional translocated clay is also present.

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

Plate 115: Fresh sherd break of NFO CC (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 115: Fresh sherd break of NFO CC (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 115.1: Photomicrograph of NFO CC (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 115.1: Photomicrograph of NFO CC (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)


New Forest (Coarse) Parchment ware (NFO PA), New Forest (Coarse) Red-slipped ware 1 (NFO RS 1), New Forest (Coarse) White ware 1 (NFO WH 1)

This is a single fabric with three different surface treatments.

General appearance

Typically these fabrics are white (10YR 8/2), sometimes with a pink (2.5YR 7/4–7/6) core, margins or mottled surfaces. Sherds are hard with a hackly fracture and harsh surfaces. Bowls and mortaria are the most common forms.

Hand specimen

These fabrics incorporate Fulford’s (1975a, 25–6) Fabrics 1c, 2a and 2c. Abundant well-sorted quartz set in a clean clay matrix is typical.The normal range for quartz is 0.2–04–5mm, but it can measure up to 1.7mm. Occasionally the quartz is iron-rimmed, giving a distinctive roseate colour to some grains. Other inclusions are irregularly shaped and sparse, and comprise red and red-brown iron-rich inclusions, sized as the quartz, and even fewer red quartz-rich clay pellets (to 3.4mm). Trituration grits consist of abundant well-sorted white, grey and black flint, normally 1.5–3.0mm although incorporating a range between 0.5–5.0mm, with less monocrystalline and polycrystalline quartz in the same size range. Only flint is readily visible in thin section.

The fabric is similar in all respects to Verulamium Region White ware, but is easily distinguished by vessel form; the fabric but not the trituration grit can be similar to Hampshire White ware and to early 2nd century Oxford White ware.

Thin section

Abundant well-sorted quartz (occasionally polycrystalline, 0.2–0.5mm), frequently rounded and set in a clean clay matrix, is visible in thin section. Other inclusions in this size range are common siliceous sandstone, sparse quartzite and flint. There is a scatter of small opaques, together with occasional grains to 0.7mm. It is difficult to distinguish larger inclusions from trituration grits, but those interpreted as trituration grits in this section are abundant flint (1.0–2.0mm); rare sandstone and opaques also present in this size range.


New Forest (Coarse) Parchment ware (NFO PA)

Two samples

General appearance

Mortaria and bowls are amongst the most common forms present in Fabric 2a (Fulford 1975a, 26, Types 86–107, excluding 99–100). Their painted decoration ranges from red-brown (2.5YR 4/4, 2.5YR 5/6) to orange-brown (7.5YR 5/6) or brown (7.5YR 3/2, 7.5YR 4/4), depending on the thickness of the paint.

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

Plate 116: Fresh sherd break of NFO PA (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 116: Fresh sherd break of NFO PA (width of field 24 mm)


New Forest (Coarse) Red-slipped ware 1 (NFO RS 1)

Single sample

General appearance

A range of bowls (Fulford 1975a, Types 59–69) are included in Fulford’s Fabric 1c, with monochrome slip in colours similar to those painted on parchment ware. Our example is slipped brown (10YR 4/1–3/1).

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


New Forest (Coarse) White ware 1 (NFO WH 1)

Single sample

General appearance

This group is represented by one mortarium sherd adhering to the classic fabric description.

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

Plate 116.1: Photomicrograph of NFO WH 1 (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 116.1: Photomicrograph of NFO WH 1 (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)


New Forest (Fine) Red-slipped ware 2 (NFO RS 2), New Forest (Fine) White ware 2 (NFO WH 2)

General appearance

Mortaria and bowls, both plain and slipped, are common to this fabric, with fewer flagons and beakers. There is a wide variety in colour, but primarily it is a pale fabric with red to red-brown or brown slip when coated. Sherd colour ranges from buff (7.5YR 8/2–8/3) to pale orange (5YR 6/6, 7.5YR 8/2–8/4, 7.5YR 7/6) or occasionally orange-brown (2.5YR 5/8) with cream to pale orange (10YR 8/2–8/4) surfaces. Generally the fracture is smooth with smooth surfaces, although where abraded it may be powdery; where unslipped the surfaces may also be rough. Most sherds are hard but where abraded they can be softer.

Hand specimen

This fabric incorporates Fulford’s (1975a, 25–6) Fabrics 1b and 2b. Inclusions are fine and well sorted, with common quartz normally measuring <0.1mm, although grains up to 0.2mm are occasionally present. Sparse ill- or well-sorted red, red-brown or black iron-rich inclusions (0.1–0.6mm, but usually <0.3mm) vary in quantity but are present in all samples, as are clay pellets up to 2.5mm. Trituration grits are well sorted and range in size between 0.5–4.0mm, although they are normally 1.0–3.0mm. Flint is abundant, with sparse monocrystalline and polycrystalline quartz, which is more variable in size than the flint, and sparse iron-rich inclusions. In some cases the quantity of black and grey flint, together with red-brown iron-rich inclusions, results in a multi-coloured appearance; elsewhere it may appear only white and grey.

Thin section

Our sample has well-sorted and abundant angular silt-sized quartz, with occasional grains to c 0.2mm; amongst the larger size, rare feldspar and flint can be identified. Opaques are common and measure up to c 0.4mm and, as for NFO CC, some appear as voids.


New Forest (Fine) Red-slipped ware 2 (NFO RS 2)

Seven samples

General appearance

Beakers, bowls and flagons with rouletted and white painted (7.5YR 8/2) decoration on a slipped surface are included in this group, which equates to Fulford’s (1975a, 25, Types 59–85) Fabric 1b. Slip varies in colour, although browns and red dominate: brown to dark brown, mottled to orange-brown where thinner (7.5YR 4/1–3/1, 7.5YR 4/2, 7.5YR 5/6–5/8, 2.5YR 4/2–4/3) or red (10R 6/8) are recorded.

Thin section

Exceptionally rare fragments of mica can be identified in this sample, but it is not considered diagnostic of the fabric.

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

Plate 117: Fresh sherd break of NFO RS 2 (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 117: Fresh sherd break of NFO RS 2 (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 117.1: Photomicrograph of NFO RS 2 (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 117.1: Photomicrograph of NFO RS 2 (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)


New Forest (Fine) White ware 2 (NFO WH 2)

Two samples

General appearance

This group includes two mortarium samples. The clay is similar in texture to that described for Fulford’s (1975a, 26) Fabric 2b but our examples lack the red-painted decoration.

Thin section

The fine groundmass of this clay, which is isotropic, enables the trituration grits to be easily identified, and this is therefore considered the best description of them in thin section. They range in size from c 0.3–0.2mm, although normally 1.0mm>, and are composed primarily of flint (some very brown due to iron staining), with fewer monocrystalline and polycrystalline quartz, quartzite and opaques.

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

Plate 118: Trituration grits on NFO WH 2 (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 118: Trituration grits on NFO WH 2 (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 118.1: Photomicrograph of NFO WH 2 (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 118.1: Photomicrograph of NFO WH 2 (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

Plate 118.2: Photomicrograph of trituration grits on NFO WH 2 (XPL) (width of field 3.5 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 118.2: Photomicrograph of trituration grits on NFO WH 2 (XPL) (width of field 3.5 mm)


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