Potsherd: Atlas of Roman Pottery

South Gaulish (La Graufesenque) terra sigillata

Terra sigillata was manufactured at La Graufesenque (nr Millau, Aveyron/FR) from the Augustan period and the products achieved a wide distribution during the Tiberio-Claudian period. The height of the industry is reached during the mid-late 1st century AD, when the distribution covers most of the western Empire, the Mediterranean littoral, and beyond.

Fabric and technology

Hard, smooth surfaced fabric with conchoidal or slightly laminar fracture; pinkish-brown (10R 5-6/8, sometimes 10R 5/10) typically with glossy red slip (10R 5/8 or darker, 2.5YR 4/6) covering the entire vessel, except interior of enclosed vessels. Earliest specimens in Britain (Tiberio-Claudian) lack high gloss of classic ware and are duller in appearance. Very abundant inclusions of finely divided limestone, usually under 0.1mm in diameter but occasionally up to 0.5mm, or in longer streaks; occasional fragments of rounded quartzite (up to 0.5mm diameter) in the paste and the underside of footrings. A distinctive variant of the ware has a yellow slip (2.5Y 7/4) marbled with red streaks.


Although c. 600 potters are known to have operated at La Graufesenque the assemblage in Britain is often dominated by a small number of firms, particularly Aquitanus, Bassus, Calvus, Crestio, Frontinus, Germanus, Licinus, Modestus, Murranus, Niger, Pass(i)enus, Patricius, Primus, Rufinus, Secundus, Severus, Virilis and Vitalis .


Production at La Graufesenque commences in the late Augustan period, and there may be some Tiberian exports to Britain, but the period of the major export is c. AD 40-100. Local production continues up to at least c. AD 200.


La Graufesenque (Aveyron), on the outskirts of Millau.


Extensive around western Mediterranean, including Italy and North Africa, Gaul, Rhineland and Danube provinces, and Britain. Also a wide scatter in eastern provinces, and beyond as far as the Sudan and India.

The marbled variant dates to c. AD 40-75 and is uncommon in Britain – rarely more than a sherd or two in even large collections – but is far more prominent in assemblages around the Mediterranean (Rogers 1981).


Colchester fabric SG. JRPS bibliography fabric sts. Milton Keynes fabric . Kent fine fabric 20a. Silchester fabric E3.


Bémont, Vernhet and Beck 1987 and Bémont and Jacob 1986, 96-103 give summaries of production at La Graufesenque. The papers presented at the SFECAG conference at Millau in 1994 (Rivet 1994) illustrate some new developments in sigillata studies, such as the use of statistical techniques to investigate the relationships between potters within a workshop or the links between potters and consumers.

The important series of pre-firing graffiti from La Graufesenque are reported by Marichal 1988. South Gaulish decorated wares are covered by Knorr 1919; Knorr 1952; Hermet 1934, with important collections published by Atkinson 1914 (the Pompeii hoard); Hull 1958; Hawkes and Hull 1947; Curle 1911; Dannell in Peacock 1971; Manning 1993.


Atkinson 1914. Atkinson, D., ‘A hoard of samian ware from Pompeii’, JRS, 4, (1914), pp. 27-64.

Bémont and Jacob 1986. Bémont, C. and Jacob, J.-P., La Terre sigillée gallo-romaine. Lieux de production du Haut Empire: implantations, produits, relations, Documents d’archéologie française, 6, Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris, (1986).

Bémont, Vernhet and Beck 1987. Bémont, C., Vernhet, A. and Beck, F., La Graufesenque. Village de potiers gallo-romains, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, (1987).

Curle 1911. Curle, J., A Roman frontier post and its people The fort of Newstead in the Parish of Melrose, Glasgow, (1911).

Hawkes and Hull 1947. Hawkes, C. F. C. and Hull, M. R., Camulodunum. First report on the excavations at Colchester, 1930-39, Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London, 14, Society of Antiquaries, Oxford, (1947).

Hermet 1934. Hermet, F., La Graufesenque (Condatomago), Librairie Ernest Leroux, Paris, (1934).

Hull 1958. Hull, M. R., Roman Colchester, Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London, 20, Society of Antiquaries and the Corporation of the Borough of Colchester, Oxford, (1958).

Knorr 1919. Knorr, R., Töpfer und Fabriken verzierter Terra-Sigillata des ersten Jahrhunderts, Kohlhammer, Stuttgart, (1919).

Knorr 1952. Knorr, R., Terra Sigillata Gefasse des ersten Jahrhunderts, mit Töpfernamen, Kohlhammer,, Stuttgart, (1952).

Manning 1993. Manning, W. H., The Roman pottery, Report on the excavations at Usk, 1965-1976, University of Wales Press [for] the Board of Celtic Studies of the University of Wales, Cardiff, (1993).

Marichal 1988. Marichal, R., Les graffites de la Graufesenque, Supplément à Gallia, 47, Éditions du CNRS, Paris, (1988).

Peacock 1971. Peacock, D. P. S., ‘Petrography of certain coarse pottery’ in Excavations at Fishbourne, 1961-69, ed. B. Cunliffe, 27, Reports of the research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London, London, (1971), pp. 255-259.

Rivet 1994. Rivet, L., Actes du Congrès de Millau. 12-15 Mai 1994. Société Française d’tude de la Céramique Antique en Gaule, SFECAG, Marseille, (1994).

Rogers 1981. Rogers, G. B., ‘Marbled samian from Fréjus (Var)’ in Roman Pottery research in Britain and North-West Europe. Papers presented to Graham Webster, ed. A. C. Anderson and A. S. Anderson, British archaeological reports. International series, 123, BAR, Oxford, (1981), pp. 257-64.

Distribution of South Gaulish (La Graufesenque) terra sigillata in Britain
Roman Pottery in Britain (Tyers 1996)
  • Fabric code: SGTS (p.112)
Terra sigillata forms and kiln sites
  • Database of the principal terra sigillata forms.
  • Map of the principal terra sigillata kiln sites
Thumbnail images (click for higher resolution):
National Roman Fabric Reference Collection
(Dore & Tomber 1998, Museum of London Archaeology Service Monograph 2)
  • Fabric code: LGF SA (La Graufesenque samian, p.28).
Thumbnail images
Worcestershire ceramics online database
(Worcestershire Historic Environment and Archaeology Service)
  • Fabric no. 43.1 (South Gaulish samian ware (La Graufesenque))
Thumbnail images (click for higher resolution):
Felix Oswald Database: sigillata fabric images
(Department of Archaeology, University of Nottingham)
Thumbnail images (click for higher resolution - further images available through the link above). Due to the (automatic) use of cookies on this site the direct link to the page of fabric images above might fail, but can be accessed if the link to the database search page is visited first.
DICOCER: Dictionnaire des Céramiques Antiques
(Py, ed 1993)
  • Fabric code: SIG-SG [PDF] (Céramique sigillée sud-gauloise)
Pages may include descriptions of related types (text in French).
La céramique romaine en Gaule du Nord
(Brulet, Vilvorder and Delage 2010)
  • Sigillée de La Graufesenque, fabrique 1 (TS-LG1) (p.73)
  • Sigillée de La Graufesenque, fabrique 2 (TS-LG2) (p.77)
  • Sigillée de La Graufesenque, fabrique 3 (TS-LG3) (p.83)
Images and text not available on-line. See also the listings of International Fabrics Reference Collection for Roman Ceramics at Louvain (text in French).
Museum of London ceramics catalogue
(Museum of London) Catalogue includes some images, but may include vessels of other types.
URL: http://potsherd.net/atlas/Ware/SGTS • © Text 1996, 2014: Layout 2012, 2014. Some images may be linked to other web sites.