Potsherd: Atlas of Roman Pottery

Late Roman Mayen ware

Jars, jugs and bowls in a hard coarse ware produced in the Eifel region (Rheinland-Pfalz/DE) and widely distributed in north-east Gaul, the lower Rhine and south-east Britain during the 3rd and 4th centuries AD.


Coarse pottery was produced at a number of sites in Eifel mountain region of Germany including Trier, Speicher and Mayen. These wares share certain typological characteristics and are referred to collectively as Eifelkeramik/ Of these, Mayen ware is the most readily identified due to its distinctive mineral suite, and the only ware exported to Britain in any quantity.

Fabric and technology

A very hard, dense, yellow, brown or purple fabric with a coarse irregular hackly fracture; wheel thrown, often with heavy rilling on the outer surface and a whorl pattern on the base. Abundant temper of irregular and angular glassy quartz, with occasional black angular (volcanic) inclusions (Fulford and Bird 1975, fabric 1). Sanidine, plagioclase, green augite, barkevitic hornblende, apatite, magnetite and pumice grains can be idenified in thin-section.


Jars, bowls and dishes, and occasional jugs and plates. Unverzagt’s typology from Kastel Alzei (Unverzagt 1916) remains a standard reference:

Alzei Redknap Description
form form
1 30 R29 One-handled jug
2 27 R1 Lid-seated jar
3 Bowl with internal flange
4 34 R6 Plate with angled rim
5 28 R2 Bowl with beaded rim

Table 1.  Classification of Late Roman Mayen ware forms (after Unverzagt and Redknap)

The distinctive jars with lid-seated rims (the commonest and most widespread form) may have served as containers.


From c. AD 300 to 450. In Britain, most are from mid- or late 4th cent. contexts. Production at Mayen – and typological tradition – continues through into the Frankish and Carolingian period (Redknap 1988, fig.3, fig.18).


Mayen, in the Eifel mountain.


Mayen ware is widespread on the continent across Belgium and eastern France, through the Rhineland and south into Switzerland. Versions of some of the standard Eifelkeramik forms were also produced in the upper Rhineland, and to the east in the Paris basin. In Britain, concentrated in south-east England, with c. 90% from Canterbury, Richborough, Colchester and London.


Redknap (1987) fabric R.


Caister-on-sea fabric EIFL-501. Chelmsford fabric 54. Gestingthorpe fabric I. JRPS bibliography fabric mek. Kent coarse fabric 12.


Redknap 1987; Redknap 1988. For British distribution: Fulford and Bird 1975.


Fulford and Bird 1975. Fulford, M. G. and Bird, J., ‘Imported Pottery from Germany in Late Roman Britain’, Britannia, 6, (1975), pp. 171-81.

Redknap 1987. Redknap, M., ‘Mayenerware and Eifelkeramik: The Roman and Medieval pottery industries of the West German Eifel’, Ph.D. Thesis, Institute of Archaeology, University of London, London, (1987).

Redknap 1988. Redknap, M., ‘Medieval pottery production at Mayen: recent advances, current problems’ in Zur Keramik des Mittelalters und der beginnenden Neuzeit im Rheinland, ed. D. R. M. Gaimster, M. Redknap and H.-H. Wegner, British archaeological reports. International series, 440, BAR, Oxford, (1988), pp. 3-37.

Unverzagt 1916. Unverzagt, W., Die Keramik des Kastells Alzey, Materialien zur römisch-germanischen Keramik, 2, J. Baer, Frankfurt a. Main,, (1916).

Distribution of Late Roman Mayen ware in Britain
Roman Pottery in Britain (Tyers 1996)
  • Fabric code: MAYN (p.151)
Thumbnail images (click for higher resolution):
National Roman Fabric Reference Collection
(Dore & Tomber 1998, Museum of London Archaeology Service Monograph 2)
  • Fabric code: MAY CO (Mayen Coarse ware, p.70).
Thumbnail images
La céramique romaine en Gaule du Nord
(Brulet, Vilvorder and Delage 2010)
  • Céramique rugueuse Bas-Empire, fabrique de Mayen (ELBE-MY) (p.420)
Images and text not available on-line. See also the listings of International Fabrics Reference Collection for Roman Ceramics at Louvain (text in French).
Late Roman Mayen ware
URL: http://potsherd.net/atlas/Ware/MAYN • © Text 1996, 2014: Layout 2012, 2014. Some images may be linked to other web sites.