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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


Malvernian Group A Reduced ware (MAL RE A)

Four samples

General appearance

This fabric is normally black to dark grey (4/0–2.5/0) or brown (2.5YR 4/1–3/1) in colour, sometimes with more complex cores and lenses, which may be red-brown (2.5YR 5/6–4/6, 2.5YR 6/6). The surface is frequently mottled. It is a hard handmade fabric with hackly break and rough to harsh surfaces that are frequently smoothed by burnishing. ‘Tubby’ cooking pots with burnished decoration, dishes and lids (Peacock 1967) are characteristic.

Hand specimen

The fabric is characterised by large ill-sorted inclusions in a slightly silty, poorly mixed clay matrix. There is a good deal of variety in sorting and frequency of inclusion types, which are often obscured in the hand specimen. Dark coarse rock fragments normally dominate, and may be common to abundant, measuring between 0.5–7.0mm and commonly to c 1.5mm. Other inclusions, which are normally common, comprise angular quartz and frequently pink feldspar (0.2–2.0mm but usually <1.0mm), followed by fine silver and less gold mica that occasionally occurs up to 0.4mm. Common to sparse black, grey or matrix-coloured clay pellets can also be identified (0.2–3.0mm). Finally, sparse accessory minerals, organics and iron-rich inclusions are present in some samples. The fabric is similar to that used in the production of a distinct range of vessels during the Iron Age (Peacock 1968).

Thin section

The clay matrix contains common subangular plutonic rock fragments up to 2.0mm, which are composed of altered alkali and plagioclase feldspars with subordinate quartz and green amphibole, minor epidote, pyroxene and opaque iron oxides, and rare apatite and zircon. Common fine sand and silt-grade material consists largely of quartz and white mica, together with grains which have disaggregated from the rock fragments. Sinuous elongate concentrations of sparry calcite in this section probably represent secondary infilling of voids.


Although no kilns are known, a source is the Malverns is assured on the basis of the complex petrology and distribution of the ware (Peacock 1967).


Hereford and Worcester County Museum, Hartlebury Castle; Museum of London


Hereford and Worcester County Museum, Hartlebury Castle; Hereford City Museum and Art Gallery


Peacock, D P S, 1967 Romano-British pottery production in the Malvern district of Worcestershire, Trans Worcestershire Archaeol Soc 1, 15–28 (3rd ser)

Peacock, D P S, 1968 A petrological study of certain Iron Age pottery from western England, Proc Prehist Soc 34, 414–28 (new ser)

Rees, H, 1992 Pottery, in Iron Age and Roman salt production and the medieval town of Droitwich (ed S Woodiwiss), CBA Res Rep 81, 35–58

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

Plate 120: Fresh sherd break of MAL RE A (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 120: Fresh sherd break of MAL RE A (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 120.1: Photomicrograph of MAL RE A (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 120.1: Photomicrograph of MAL RE A (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

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