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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


Ebor Fabrics

The three fabrics named Eboracum ware by Perrin (1977, 101) were produced at York from the late 1st century to at least the early 3rd century AD. A number of phases of production, characterised by changes in the form repertoire, can be discerned in the industry (or industries) associated with the ware. Flagons, beakers, jars, bowls, dishes, platters, tazze and mortaria were all produced in one fabric with a number of surface finishes: plain, burnished, slipped and white slipped. Our samples belong to Perrin’s (1981) fabric 1 (by far the most frequently occurring), with either a plain or a white-slipped surface finish.

General appearance

The samples represented here are typically orange (2.5YR 6/8), well fired and hard, with an irregular fracture and a rough feel.

Hand specimen

Generally the inclusions are well sorted with occasional grains to c 1.0mm. Rounded quartz – sometimes polycrystalline, mostly 0.2–0.6mm, and black and red-brown iron-rich fragments (0.2–0.4mm) are abundant to common, while red or white quartz-rich clay pellets, red-brown sandstone (c 0.5mm) and fine silver mica are all sparse.

Thin section

One sample was considered representative for both fabric variants. It has well-sorted common quartz and sparse opaques, frequently measuring c 0.1–0.25mm but occasionally to c 0.5mm, set in a clean matrix with common muscovite mica and sparse silt-sized quartz. Other inclusions, in a similar size range, include recurring fine-grained sandstone (occasionally siltstone) and, less frequently, flint, polycrystalline quartz, feldspar and quartzite. Clay pellets are sparse but regular, and measure up to 1.0mm


A 1st century kiln dump from York was reported on by King (1975). Re-evaluation of its dating indicates some Flavian tiles of the IXth Legion with pottery primarily late Hadrianic or early Antonine, and a closing date possibly as late as the Severan period (J Monaghan, pers comm). Kilns, probably of Hadrianic-Antonine date, are known at Apple Tree Farm, Heworth (Frere 1990, 324–5).


York Archaeological Trust


Yorkshire Museum, York


Frere, S S, 1990 Roman Britain in 1989, in I. Sites explored (S S Frere), Britannia 21, 304–64

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

King, E, 1975 Roman kiln material from the Borthwick Institute, Peasholme Green, in Excavations in York 1972–3: first interim report (P V Addyman), Antiq J 54, 213–17

Monaghan, J, 1993 Roman pottery from the fortress, The Archaeology of York. The Pottery 16/7

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

Perrin, J R, 1977 Legionary ware in York, in Roman pottery studies in Britain and beyond. Papers presented to John Gillam, July 1977 (eds J Dore & K Greene), BAR Int Ser 30, 101–12

Perrin, J R, 1981a Roman pottery from the Colonia: Skeldergate and Bishophill, The Archaeology of York. The pottery 16/2

Eboracum Oxidised ware (EBO OX)

Three samples

General appearance

The internal surface is wiped and the external often knife trimmed.

Hand specimen

One of the sherds in this group is particularly fine, containing mostly silt-sized quartz inclusions, but in all other respects our samples conform to the general description.

Plate 166.1: Photomicrograph of EBO OX (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 166.1: Photomicrograph of EBO OX (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

Eboracum White-slipped ware (EBO WS)

Single sample

General appearance

This sample is identical to the general description, with the addition of a cream (10YR 8/3) slip. The white-slipped surface seems to have been used mainly if not exclusively on flagons and to be largely confined to the 2nd century AD.

Plate 166: Fresh sherd break of EBO WS (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 166: Fresh sherd break of EBO WS (width of field 24 mm)

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