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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


Mucking Black-burnished ware 2 (MUC BB 2)

Six samples

General appearance

MUC BB2 has a grey to pale grey (5/0–4/0) or brown (10YR 5/4–5/3) break, sometimes with red- or pink-brown (10R 4/4–4/3) margins and grey to grey-brown (10YR 5/1–5/2, 10YR 4/1–4/2, 10YR 3/1, 7.5YR 5/1–4/1) or occasionally black (3/0) surfaces. Although the colour is variable, it is typified by brown tones, which are frequently mottled. The surfaces are decorated with glossy horizontal burnishing alternating with unburnished bands, and rare sherds may be slipped on the surface. Despite our observations, Rodwell considers that the potters aimed at a hard-fired black or grey ware, with jars in a rough sandy fabric and dishes, bowls and beakers in a finer variant with frequent burnishing (Jones & Rodwell 1973, 19). Our sherds are hard to very hard, with a hackly to irregular fracture and, where burnished, a smooth surface; otherwise it is variable. Kilns products include black-burnished ware forms and others, with the most common being simple unburnished jars, ledge-rim jars and pie dishes (ibid, 36). Only black-burnished ware is represented in our collection.

Hand specimen

Variability in fracture and surface reflects variability in inclusions, both in terms of size and sorting. This is a quartz dominated fabric (including polycrystalline quartz), with common or abundant quartz, generally measuring c <0.2mm although some samples have regular grains to 0.5mm, set in a sparsely micaceous (silver) clay. Other inclusions vary from sherd to sherd: black iron-rich fragments are sometimes common, with red iron-rich inclusions, matrix-coloured clay pellets, unidentified white inclusions (?flint) and occasional organic fragments all sparse. Most of these fall within the parameters defined for the quartz, although organics and clay pellets may be as large as c 1.0–2.0mm.

Thin section

This sample contains abundant well-sorted angular quartz measuring <0.15mm, together with sparse larger and ill-sorted grains (including polycrystalline ones) and fine-grained sandstone up to 0.8mm. Opaques are common in both size ranges; in the smaller size range flint is plentiful and feldspar also present. Glauconitic pellets up to c 0.2mm are frequent in parts of the section. The clay is slightly micaceous, primarily comprised of muscovite. This sample differs from other BB2 types represented here (from Colchester, Cliffe and Cooling) by being finer with fewer inclusions.


The sherds in this group derive from two of the six kilns published by Jones and Rodwell (1973).


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


Colchester Museums; Thurrock Local History Museum, Central Library, Orsett Road, Grays; Department of Prehistoric & Romano-British Antiquities, The British Museum


Jones, M U, & Jones, W T, 1972-3 Mucking excavations: 1972, Panorama: J Thurrock Local Hist Soc 16, 32–7

Jones, M U, & Rodwell, W, 1973 The Romano-British pottery kilns at Mucking, Essex Archaeol Hist 5, 13–47

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

Plate 109: Fresh sherd break of MUC BB 2 (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 109: Fresh sherd break of MUC BB 2 (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 109.1: Photomicrograph of MUC BB 2 (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 109.1: Photomicrograph of MUC BB 2 (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

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