Potsherd: Atlas of Roman Pottery

South Devon burnished ware

Jars and bowls in a hard grey or black ware produced in south Devon (GB) and distributed in south-west England during the 3rd and 4th centuries AD.

Fabric and technology

Hard, with irregular fracture; normally dark-grey or black, but occasionally lighter yellow-brown or red-brown; abundant dark mica, and angular feldspar, with sparser quartz sand; exterior surfaces facet burnished. Most wheel-thrown, but some (larger) vessels hand-formed.


Later assemblage dominated by BB1-derived flanged bowls and everted rim jars; earlier jar forms with moulded rim may originate from later Iron Age Cornish gabbroic ware prototypes.


Earliest specimens from Neronian deposits, but wide distribution dates from late 2nd cent. to 4th cent.


South Devon.


Devon, Cornwall and west Dorset; outliers in London.


Exeter fabric 5. JRPS bibliography fabric sdw.


Bidwell and Silvester in Cunliffe 1988, 47-9 Holbrook and Bidwell 1991, 177-81;; for London specimens: Richardson 1986, 125 (but see comments by M. Wood in Holbrook and Bidwell 1991, 181, no. 18.1 on possible alternative source for some of these vessels).


Cunliffe 1988. Cunliffe, B. W., Mount Batten, Plymouth. A prehistoric and Roman port, Oxford University Committee for Archaeology. Monograph, 26, Oxford, (1988).

Holbrook and Bidwell 1991. Holbrook, N. and Bidwell, P. T., Roman finds from Exeter, Exeter Archaeological Reports, 4, Exeter City Council and the University of Exeter, Exeter, (1991).

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.

Distribution of South Devon burnished ware in Britain
Roman Pottery in Britain (Tyers 1996)
  • Fabric code: SDBB (p.196)
Thumbnail images (click for higher resolution):
National Roman Fabric Reference Collection
(Dore & Tomber 1998, Museum of London Archaeology Service Monograph 2)
  • Fabric code: SOD RE (South Devon (Micaceous) Reduced ware, p.126).
Thumbnail images
South Devon burnished ware
URL: http://potsherd.net/atlas/Ware/SDBB • © Text 1996, 2014: Layout 2012, 2014. Some images may be linked to other web sites.