Potsherd: Atlas of Roman Pottery

Portchester fabric D ware

Jars, bowls and dishes in a coarse cream or yellow fabric, produced in the Surrey-Hampshire border region (GB) and distributed in southern England during the 4th century AD.

Fabric and technology

Hard, rough, sandy fabric with irregular or hackly fracture, which can be slightly friable; a range of colours but either orange, through yellow/buff to brown, or shades of grey; abundant clear, colourless or reddish quartz, with sparse coarse (or very coarse) red iron ores, fine white mica and occasional large angular chalk inclusions. Some variants show a pale brown slip over the outer surface. Wheel-thrown. Often with smoke blackened surfaces.


Principal forms are necked jars with undercut rim and rilled surface, flanged bowls and plain dishes. Minor forms include jugs and moulded-rim jars.

Form Portchester Alice Holt
Flanged bowl 87 5B
Inturned rim bowl 89 5C?
Plain dish 109 6A
Rilled jar 137 3C
Lid 173 7

Table 1.  Classification of Portchester D ware forms (after Fulford, and Lyne and Jefferies)


From early 4th through to the end of the century. Forms 5-10% of late 4th-cent. deposits in London, Surrey and west Kent.


One source is the Overwey kilns, near Tilford (Surrey), but there may be others.


Hampshire, Surrey, the London region and Kent.


‘Surrey buff ware’ and ‘fabric C’: Lyne and Jefferies 1979. Millet 1979, fabric 2. Regularly misnamed ‘Porchester D’ (e.g. JRPS bibliography vols 1-5).


JRPS bibliography fabric pod. Lullingstone fabric 63. Kent coarse fabric 19. Portchester fabric D.


Fulford 1975; Orton in AML 2053 1976, 35. Quantified data in Pomel 1984. For Overwey kilns: Clark 1949, RCHM gazetteer F627-8.


Clark 1949. Clark, A. J., ‘The Fourth-century Romano-British pottery kilns at Overwey, Tilford’, SurreyAC, 51, (1949), pp. 29-56.

Fulford 1975. Fulford, M. G., ‘The pottery’ in Excavations at Portchester Castle. Volume I: Roman, ed. B. W. Cunliffe, Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London, 32, Society of Antiquaries, London, (1975), pp. 270-367.

Lyne and Jefferies 1979. Lyne, M. A. B. and Jefferies, R. S., The Alice Holt/Farnham Roman pottery industry, Research reports/Council for British Archaeology, 30, Council for British Archaeology, London, (1979).

Millett 1979. Millett, M., ‘The Dating of Farnham (Alice Holt) Pottery’, Britannia, 10, (1979), pp. 121-37.

Pomel 1984. Pomel, M. G., ‘A study of later Roman pottery groups in Southern Britain: fabrics, form and chronology’, M. Phil. thesis, Institute of Archaeology, University of London, (1984).

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

Distribution of Portchester fabric D ware in Britain
Roman Pottery in Britain (Tyers 1996)
  • Fabric code: PORD (p.194)
Thumbnail images (click for higher resolution):
National Roman Fabric Reference Collection
(Dore & Tomber 1998, Museum of London Archaeology Service Monograph 2)
  • Fabric code: OVW WH (Overwey White ware, p.146).
Thumbnail images
The pottery kilns of Roman Britain (Swan 1984)
Kilns producing this ware are located at:
  • Tilford (Surrey)
Further details of these sites are available through the link above, and are summarized and mapped here.
Portchester fabric D ware
URL: http://potsherd.net/atlas/Ware/PORD • © Text 1996, 2014: Layout 2012, 2014. Some images may be linked to other web sites.