Potsherd: Atlas of Roman Pottery

German marbled wares

Jugs and flagons in a fine slipped ware decorated with darker marbled decoration produced in the Mosel region (DE) and distributed across the lower Rhine and south-east Britain during the 3rd and 4th centuries AD.

Fabric and technology

A very hard smooth-textured creamy-buff or pink fabric (7.5YR 8/4 to 2.5YR 6/8) perhaps with a grey or orange core, with sparse coarse inclusions of irregular brown clay pellets, glassy quartz and occasional black (volcanic?) grains. Wheel-thrown. The mottled matt slip is normally a shade of orange or red (10R 6/6 to 5/8) but may be lighter (buff) or a darker brownish-black colour; the marbling shows no clear patterning and the slip is often harsh to the touch. Some vessels have white roundels or other motifs (including simple inscriptions) overpainted on the shoulder. In German reports this is described to as marmorierte keramik/


The principal forms in the ware are flagons:

a two-handled vessel with a collar on the neck.

a one-handled jug with grooves on the body.

a one-handled round-bodied flagon with offset at the shoulder.


Early or mid-3rd to late 4th cent.


The middle Rhine or lower Mosel valleys (Oelmann 1914, 50). A second marbled fabric from kilns at Speicher and Trier and described as flamed (/ ware is distributed in the Trier area and north into the Ardennes and Belgium; this is not found in Britain.


The middle and lower Rhine (from Mainz to Nijmegan), Kent and the London area.


Colchester fabric EESJ. Lullingstone fabrics 8 and 9. Kent fine fabric 5e.


The principal studies of the origin, dating and distribution of the ware are the reports on the Trier Kaiserthermen and Niederbieber (Hussong and Cüppers 1972; Oelmann 1914). The British evidence is described by Bird and Williams (1982) with a report on the petrology.


AML 3824 1982. Bird, J. and Williams, D., German marbled flagons in Roman Britain, 3824, English Heritage, London, (1982).

Hussong and Cüppers 1972. Hussong, L. and Cüppers, H., Die Trierer Kaiserthermen. Die spätrömische und frühmittelalterliche Keramik, Trieren Grabungen und Forschungen, 1, P. von Zabern, Mainz am Rhein, (1972).

Oelmann 1914. Oelmann, F., Die Keramik des Kastells Niederbieber, Materialien zur römisch-germanischen Keramik, 1, (1914).

Distribution of German marbled wares in Britain
Roman Pottery in Britain (Tyers 1996)
  • Fabric code: MARM (p.150)
Thumbnail images (click for higher resolution):
National Roman Fabric Reference Collection
(Dore & Tomber 1998, Museum of London Archaeology Service Monograph 2)
  • Fabric code: LOR MA (Lower Rhineland Marbled ware, p.58).
Thumbnail images
La céramique romaine en Gaule du Nord
(Brulet, Vilvorder and Delage 2010)
  • Marbrée et flammée, fabrique de Speicher (CMF.BE-SP) (p.385)
Images and text not available on-line. See also the listings of International Fabrics Reference Collection for Roman Ceramics at Louvain (text in French).
German marbled wares
URL: http://potsherd.net/atlas/Ware/MARM • © Text 1996, 2014: Layout 2012, 2014. Some images may be linked to other web sites.