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Dartford District Archaeological Group (DDAG)

The Christopher St John Breen Roman Pottery Archive
An aid to identifying sherds from excavations

Pictures of Roman Samian Ware Pottery Sherds

Samian ware, or terra sigillata (as it is known on the Continent) was imported into Roman Britain in vast quantities from the 1st Century A.D. from Southern Gaul, then in the 2nd Century A.D. from Central Gaul and in the 3rd Century from the East Gaulish German Provinces. We are able to distinguish the sources of most samian from the form, style and the type of inclusions that occur in the fabric.
   There are many books available on samian ware (see Suggested reading) and the excellent website Potsherd by Paul Tyers  
   A really useful guide is Illustrating Samian Ware. Guidelines for the recording, illustration and publication of samian ware, in particular decorated vessels and stamps. It focuses on rubbings as the principal means of illustrating samian, though provides information on other techniques, for example photography and conventional line drawing
   Below we concentrate on showing those small fragments of complete vessels that one normally finds during excavations that may give a clue as to which form of samian a sherd may come from. Also on the appearance of the fabric as it might be viewed through a x20 lense or microscope.
   Click on each link to see pictures of sherds of individual forms and fabrics. For background information see
Introduction to Pottery Archive.
   The majority of these sherds were typed back in the late 1980's, and since then knowledge of the fabrics and their dating may have been modified, so please if you feel that any description is incorrect, please let us know at so that we can amend our information. 
   System of plastic boxes and trays for storing and displaying for handling Roman sherds
   The present pottery archive consists of pottery sherds recovered from the Billingsgate dumps, and so apart from the imported wares represents pottery traded and used in London. We are now extending the range of material by including sherds from excavations throughout Kent, to better reflect the differing fabrics of all dates from London and Kent
   Updated March 2022
with help from J.M. Mills and Gwladys Monteil   Many thanks Jo and Gwladys.




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