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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


West Stow Fine Reduced ware (WES FR)

Six samples

Three fabrics were produced at West Stow, including a white one, and both fine and coarse reduced ones. Only the fine reduced ‘London-type’ ware is included here.

General appearance

This is a well-defined, consistent fabric. In colour it is dark brownish-grey (5YR 3/2, 10YR 5/1) with a surface of a similar or slightly darker colour. It is hard with a smooth fracture and has a smooth to soapy feel. The external surface is burnished, often to a good gloss, possibly achieved by burnishing when the vessel was leather hard (West 1990, 76). The West Stow ‘London-ware’ bowls are decorated with compass inscribing, rouletting and stamping, the latter two which distinguish it from London Fine Reduced ware.

Hand specimen

WES FR is characterised by a silty matrix, sometimes very micaceous, with silver mica frequently prominent on the vessel surface. A sparse scatter of larger material can also be identified: quartz, up to 1.2mm; matrixcoloured clay pellets (common in some samples), up to 2.5mm; dark grey, black and red-brown iron-rich grains, up to 1.0mm; and limestone, up to 0.5mm.

Thin section

This fabric has a very clean clay with common muscovite mica and silt-sized quartz, limestone and opaques. Rare larger inclusions comprise rounded fragments of limestone, quartz (occasionally polycrystalline), clay pellets and opaques, normally 0.2–0.4mm in size.


These wares are associated with kilns at West Stow in north-west Suffolk (West 1952).


Suffolk County Council, Bury St Edmunds


Moyse’s Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds; Suffolk County Council Archaeology Section, Bury St Edmunds; Ipswich Museum


Rodwell, W J, 1978 Stamp-decorated pottery of the early Roman period in eastern England, in Early fine wares in Roman Britain (eds P Arthur & G D Marsh), BAR 57, 225–92

West, S, 1952 (1955) Romano-British pottery kilns on West Stow heath, Proc Suffolk Inst Archaeol Hist 26, 35–54

West, S, 1990 West Stow, Sufffolk: the prehistoric and Romano-British occupations, East Anglian Archaeol 48

Williams, D F, 1988b Petrological description, in Burgh: the Iron Age and Roman enclosure (E Martin), East Anglian Archaeol 40, 46

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

Plate 154: Fresh sherd break of WES FR (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 154: Fresh sherd break of WES FR (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 154.1: Photomicrograph of WES FR (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 154.1: Photomicrograph of WES FR (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

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