Potsherd: Atlas of Roman Pottery

South-western Black-burnished ware

Jars, bowls and dishes in coarse black sandy wares produced in Dorset or Somerset (GB) and distributed in south-west Britain during 2nd and 3rd centuries AD.

Fabric and technology

Fairly sandy fabric; black, perhaps with buff surfaces in earlier examples; some quartz grits and soft white inclusions, occasional larger flint fragments. Black slip visible on outer surface of closed forms, and all surfaces of open forms, giving slightly lustrous finish. Hand-formed.


Early forms (1st-2nd cent.) mirror those of South-East Dorset BB1, but some types (e.g. bead-rim bowls) more common in early SWBB1.


No evidence for pre-conquest production, but present on pre-Flavian military sites. Dominant 2nd cent. BB1 fabric in Exeter during 2nd cent. AD. but no evidence of production after early-mid 3rd cent. when displaced by South-East Dorset BB1.


West Dorset or south Somerset.


Predominantly south-western Britain, with some examples in south Wales and the northern frontier zone (catalogues in Brown and Vince 1984, 93, 293).


Exeter fabric 40.


Brown and Vince 1984, 88-100, 114-37.


Brown and Vince 1984. Brown, D. H. and Vince, A. G., ‘Petrological Aspects; the Medieval Pottery of Exeter under the Microscope’ in Medieval and Post medieval Finds from Exeter 1971-1981, ed. J. P. Allan, Exeter Archaeology Reports, 3, (1984), pp. 32-34.

Distribution of South-western Black-burnished ware in Britain
National Roman Fabric Reference Collection
(Dore & Tomber 1998, Museum of London Archaeology Service Monograph 2)
  • Fabric code: SOW BB 1 (South-West Black-burnished ware 1, p.129).
Thumbnail images
South-western Black-burnished ware
URL: http://potsherd.net/atlas/Ware/SWBB1 • © Text 1996, 2014: Layout 2012, 2014. Some images may be linked to other web sites.