Potsherd: Atlas of Roman Pottery

Hadham red-slipped wares

Red wares produced in the area of Hadham (Herts/GB) and distributed across south and east England during the 3rd and 4th centuries AD.


Pottery was produced at the kilns at Hadham (Herts) from the later 1st cent. Amongst the most distinctive products of the early phase of the industry are the ‘stamped London ware’ bowls (Rodwell 1978) described elsewhere (see LEST). The industry expanded significantly from the later 3rd cent. with the production of fine grey and orange-red slipped and burnished wares. Although the orange wares may have formed only a relatively small proportion of the output of the later Hadham industry they are the most widely recognized products of the kilns, and are described further below. Alongside these wares there was some production of grey wares of the standard later-Roman black-burnished derived forms, and jars with rilled surfaces in gritty fabrics reminiscent in form of the jars of the east Midlands shell-tempered industry (LRSH).

Fabric and technology

A range of hard, fine fabrics with sandy texture and finely irregular fracture; bright orange-red (e.g. 2.5YR 6/12) or paler orange-pink or reddish-yellow, distinctively slipped and burnished on exterior of enclosed vessels and (usually) both surfaces of open vessels; tempered with abundant fine quartz sand, moderate fine black and red iron ores and some fine mica. Decoration, other than burnishing, includes stamping, relief-moulded figures, bosses and dimples. Grey (reduced) ware of similar character is less widely recognized.


No complete typology of Hadham products exits, but wide range of forms are known, including jars, bowls, plates, flagons and flasks. Some follow the common late-Roman imitation red-slipped samian-derived forms, but others are highly decorated in so-called ‘Romano-Saxon’ style, incorporating stamps and moulding (including anthropomorphic and animal motifs) with bosses and dimples.


Production from mid-3rd, with expanded distribution from the beginning of the 4th cent.


Kilns at Little Hadham and Much Hadham (Herts).


Earlier products have local distribution, but expansion during 3rd cent. Highest proportion of assemblages in Herts/Essex reached during period AD 350-400 (e.g. Going 1987, 115-6).


Caister-on-sea fabric MHAD-10. Chelmsford fabric 4. Chesterfield fabric 23. Colchester fabric CH. Gestingthorpe fabric A1. Great Chesterford fabric 23. JRPS bibliography fabric had. Leicester fabric OW9. Lullingstone fabric 19. Milton Keynes fabric 37. Kent fine fabric 12a. Towcester fabric 32.


For kilns: RCHM gazetteer F356-9; Rodwell 1982. Final report on kilns and their products by C. Going, forthcoming; for fabrics: Orton in AML 2053 1976; discussion of dating of Hadham wares in Harden and Green 1978; Going 1987; for ‘Romano-Saxon’ style: Roberts 1982 – many are Hadham products.


Going 1987. Going, C. J., The Mansio and other sites in the south-eastern sector of Caesaromagus: the Roman pottery, Research reports/Council for British Archaeology, 62, Chelmsford Archaeological Trust; Council for British Archaeology, London, (1987).

Harden and Green 1978. Harden, D. B. and Green, C. M., ‘A late Roman grave-group from the Minories, Aldgate’ in Collectanea Londiniensia. Studies in London archaeology and history presented to Ralph Merrifield, ed. J. Bird, H. Chapman and J. Clark, Special Paper, 2, London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, London, (1978), pp. 163-76.

Roberts 1982. Roberts, W. I., Romano-Saxon pottery, British archaeological reports. British series, 106, BAR, Oxford, (1982).

Rodwell 1978. Rodwell, W. J., ‘Stamp-decorated pottery of the early Roman period in eastern England’ in Early Fine wares in Roman Britain, ed. G. D. Marsh and P. R. Arthur, British archaeological reports. British series, 57, BAR, Oxford, (1978), pp. 225-92.

Rodwell 1982. Rodwell, W. J., ‘The production and distribution of pottery and tiles in the territory of the Trinovantes’, EssexAH, 14, (1982), pp. 15-76.

AML 2053 1976. Williams, D. F., Angel Court, Walbrook, London. Pottery, Ancient Monuments Laboratory Reports, 2053, English Heritage, London, (1976).

Distribution of Hadham red-slipped wares in Britain
Roman Pottery in Britain (Tyers 1996)
  • Fabric code: HARS (p.168)
Thumbnail images (click for higher resolution):
National Roman Fabric Reference Collection
(Dore & Tomber 1998, Museum of London Archaeology Service Monograph 2)
  • Fabric code: HAD OX (Hadham Oxidised ware, p.151).
Thumbnail images
La céramique romaine en Gaule du Nord
(Brulet, Vilvorder and Delage 2010)
  • Hadham Red-Slipped Ware (TS.BE-HAD) (p.265)
Images and text not available on-line. See also the listings of International Fabrics Reference Collection for Roman Ceramics at Louvain (text in French).
The pottery kilns of Roman Britain (Swan 1984)
Kilns producing this ware are located at:
  • Hadham, Little (Herts)
  • Hadham, Much (Herts)
Further details of these sites are available through the link above, and are summarized and mapped here.
Hadham red-slipped wares
URL: http://potsherd.net/atlas/Ware/HARS • © Text 1996, 2014: Layout 2012, 2014. Some images may be linked to other web sites.