Potsherd: Atlas of Roman Pottery

North Gaulish grey wares

Jars, beakers, jugs and bowls in grey wares produced in the Picardy, Nord and Pas-de-Calais (FR) and distributed across northern Gaul and south and east England during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD.

Fabric and technology

A hard, light bluish-grey fabric (2.5YR 8/0-7/0) with darker grey (10YR 4/1) surfaces. Wheel-thrown. The main inclusions are abundant clear quartz, occasional black iron-rich particles and sparse fine mica. The most distinctive feature of the jars and bowls are the thin horizontal bands (/ on the neck and upper body.


Jars and bowls. The jars have a truncated conical neck (/ which changes in shape and proportion through the Roman period. By the Flavian period the height of the neck exceeds that of the body, and it continues to increase through the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The straight wall of the neck of the earlier examples, becomes rounded and swells out in later vessels. By the 4th cent. the neck becomes cylindrical or flares out from the body. There are related (but less common) bowl and dish forms, which also have the same burnished horizontal lines.


Production of wheel-thrown grey wares in Northern France commenced in the Claudian period. The earliest imports into Britain may be pre-Flavian and there are several examples in groups of Flavian-Trajanic date (including perhaps a vessel from Inchtuthil: Pitts and St Joseph 1985, 326, fig.99, 35). The taller necks of later vessels are also found in Britain, and may be dated to the 3rd cent.


There are a number of known production sites in the Nord and Pas-de-Calais regions. Similar forms are also common further south in the Somme valley (Bayard 1980).


The British distribution is concentrated in the south-east and up the east coast. The ware is found in the New Fresh Wharf waterfront group in London, in association with a wide range of other Gaulish imports, including other coarse wares from Nord and Picardy (Richardson 1986). There are particularly large collections from Caister-on-sea (Darling 1993, 161, 166) and York (Williams 1990, 268; Monaghan 1993, 717). The vase tronconique type is also recorded from Guernsey (Burns 1987, fig.5, 28; Monaghan 1987, fig.7, 51).


Caister-on-sea fabrics NGCR-3, NGCRa-3a and NGGW-105. JRPS bibliography fabric ngg. Lullingstone fabric 25. Kent fine fabric 15b. Kent coarse fabric 16.


The principal synopsis of north Gaulish pottery is Tuffreau-Libre 1980, who gives references to earlier work in the region. The British evidence is summarized in Richardson and Tyers 1984.


Bayard 1980. Bayard, D., ‘La commercialisation de la céramique commune à Amiens du milieu du IIe à la fin du IIIe siècle après J.-C.’, CahArchPic, 7, (1980), pp. 147-209.

Burns 1987. Burns, R. B., ‘L’poque gallo-romaine. Un nouveau chapitre de l’histoire de Guernsey’ in Actes du Congrès de Caen. 28-31 Mai 1987. Société Française d’tude de la Céramique Antique en Gaule, ed. L. Rivet, SFECAG, Marseille, (1987), pp. 29-38.

Darling 1993. Darling, M. J., Caister-on-Sea Excavations by Charles Green, 1951-55, EAA, 60, (1993).

Monaghan 1987. Monaghan, J., ‘Découvertes maritimes provenant du baillage de Guernsey’ in Actes du Congrès de Caen. 28-31 Mai 1987. Société Française d’tude de la Céramique Antique en Gaule, ed. L. Rivet, SFECAG, Marseille, (1987), pp. 39-45.

Monaghan 1993. Monaghan, J., Roman pottery from the Fortress: 9 Blake Street, The Archaeology of York, 16, Council for British Archaeology for the York Archaeological Trust, London, (1993).

Pitts and St Joseph 1985. Pitts, L. F. and St Joseph, J. K., Inchtuthil. The Roman legionary fortress. Excavations 1952-65, Britannia. Monograph series, 6, Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, London, (1985).

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.

Richardson and Tyers 1984. Richardson, B. and Tyers, P. A., ‘North Gaulish Pottery in Britain’, Britannia, 15, (1984), pp. 133-41.

Tuffreau-Libre 1980. Tuffreau-Libre, M., La céramique commune gallo-romaine dans le Nord de la France, Lille, (1980).

Williams 1990. Williams, D. F., ‘Amphorae from York’ in Roman pottery from the Colonia, 2: General Accident and Rougier Street, with a report on amphorae from York., ed. J. R. Perrin, The Archaeology of York 16 (4), CBA for York Archaeological Trust, (1990), pp. 342-348.

Distribution of North Gaulish grey wares in Britain
Roman Pottery in Britain (Tyers 1996)
  • Fabric code: NGGW (p.154)
Thumbnail images (click for higher resolution):
National Roman Fabric Reference Collection
(Dore & Tomber 1998, Museum of London Archaeology Service Monograph 2)
  • Fabric code: NOG RE (North Gaulish Reduced ware, p.74).
  • Fabric code: NOG WH 5 (North Gaulish (Amiens) White ware 5, p.77).
Thumbnail images
North Gaulish grey wares
URL: http://potsherd.net/atlas/Ware/NGGW • © Text 1996, 2014: Layout 2012, 2014. Some images may be linked to other web sites.