Potsherd: Atlas of Roman Pottery

Trier black-slipped ware ('Moselkeramik')

Beakers and cups in a fine black-slipped ware, commonly decorated with rouletted or barbotine decoration, produced in the Trier region (Rheinland-Pfalz/DE) and widely distributed in lower Germany and Britain during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD.

Fabric and technology

Very hard, fine-textured fabric; distinct ‘sandwich’ of dark red (10YR 4/6 to 2.5YR 4/6) with grey margins, with glossy black slip, which may have a dark grey-green metallic lustre; fine white limestone flecks in the matrix, with some quartz sand – not noticeably micaceous (cf. CGBL). Decoration includes fine rouletted bands, white slip or barbotine (applied above the dark slip) and folding or indentations.


Beakers are most abundant and widespread forms, but flagons, flasks, cups and other more exotic shapes also produced. White painted scrolls, groups of dots – representing bunches of grapes – wavy lines and other abstract motifs, are particularly characteristic of this group, which may be combined with short texts (‘motto beakers’) which frequently allude to some aspect of drinking behaviour (e.g. BIBE, MISCE etc/

Description Gillam
Globular beakers
1 plain
2 round/oval indentations
5 long narrow indentations 44/45
3 folded 46
Beakers with white barbotine decoration - plain
4 - round/oval indentations long narrow indentations
Shoulderless beaker
6-7 plain

Table 1.  Principal Trier black-slipped ware forms


AD 180-250. Production of black-slipped wares at Trier continues into 4th cent., but not exported.


Principally from workshops at Trier, in the Mosel valley. Oelmann (1914) illustrates material from the production sites.


Common in the Mosel valley, middle and lower Rhine, with a scatter to the south and east, but rare west of the Saône. Widespread in Britain, but not consistently distinguished from CGBL in some published reports.


Conflated with CGBL in JRPS bibliography as rhn.


Caister-on-sea fabric MOSL-31. Carlisle fabric 342. Chelmsford fabric 9. Colchester fabrics CLNF and CLNG. Gestingthorpe fabric C1. Lullingstone fabric 7. Old Penrith fabric 13. Kent fine fabric 5d.


For description of fabric and differentiation from Central Gaulish black slipped ware: Brewster 1972 (Greene 1978a; Greene 1978b; Richardson 1986, 118-21; type-series: Symonds 1992, 46-62; for inscriptions: Bös 1958; Symonds 1992, 112-21, with refs. RIB ii.6/ 2498.


Bös 1958. Bös, M., ‘Aufschriften auf rheinischen Trinkgefässen der Römerzeit’, KölnJbVFrühGesch, 3, (1958), pp. 20-5.

Brewster 1972. Brewster, N. H., ‘Corbridge: It’s significance for the study of Rhenish ware’, ArchAeliana4, 50, (1972), pp. 205-16.

Greene 1978a. Greene, K. T., ‘Roman trade between Britain and the Rhine provinces: the evidence of pottery to c. AD 250’ in Roman shipping and trade: Britain and the Rhine provinces, ed. J. du Plat Taylor and H. Cleere, Research reports/Council for British Archaeology, 24, Council for British Archaeology, London, (1978), pp. 52-8.

Greene 1978b. Greene, K. T., ‘Imported fine wares in Britain to AD 250: A guide to identification’ 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. 15-30.

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

Richardson 1986. Richardson, B., ‘The Pottery’ in The Roman quay at St. Magnus House London: excavations at New Fresh Wharf, Lower Thames Street, London, 1974-16, ed. Miller, LAMAS Special Paper, 8, LAMAS, London, (1986), pp. No 1.164-68.

Symonds 1992. Symonds, R. P., Rhenish wares. Fine dark coloured pottery from Gaul and Germany, Oxford University Committee for Archaeology. Monograph, 23, Oxford, (1992).

Distribution of Trier black-slipped ware ('Moselkeramik') in Britain
Roman Pottery in Britain (Tyers 1996)
  • Fabric code: MOSL (p.138)
Thumbnail images (click for higher resolution):
National Roman Fabric Reference Collection
(Dore & Tomber 1998, Museum of London Archaeology Service Monograph 2)
  • Fabric code: MOS BS (Moselkeramik Black-slipped ware, p.60).
Thumbnail images
La céramique romaine en Gaule du Nord
(Brulet, Vilvorder and Delage 2010)
Images and text not available on-line. See also the listings of International Fabrics Reference Collection for Roman Ceramics at Louvain (text in French).
Trier black-slipped ware ('Moselkeramik')
URL: http://potsherd.net/atlas/Ware/MOSL • © Text 1996, 2014: Layout 2012, 2014. Some images may be linked to other web sites.