Potsherd: Atlas of Roman Pottery

Wilderspool mortaria

Mortaria manufactured at Warrington (Ches/GB) with distribution in north-west England, north Wales and southern Scotland during 2nd century AD.

Fabric and technology

Fairly sandy fabrics with abundant quartz inclusions, varying from pink through to orange-brown, often with a blue-grey core; multicoloured (red, brown, white and black) trituration grit. Wheel-thrown.


Mortaria with bead and rolled flange.


The Wilderspool potters Austinus, Docci.. and DIS/LDB moved subsequently to the Carlisle (Eden Valley) region, where they produced very similar mortaria. It is not always possible to distinguish Wilderspool and Carlisle products on fabric grounds alone, but different dies were used in the two workshops.

The potter Nanieco probably originated in the Mancetter-Hartshill potteries. The Scottish potter Emi.., who probably operated from the Newstead area, produced mortaria with the same rim forms as DIS/LDB and Doccius, and probably trained in their Wilderspool or Carlisle workshops.

Potter Date
AUSTINUS 115-165 -> Carlisle
C.C.M -
DECANIO 130-165
DIS/LDB 120-150 -> Carlisle
DOCCI.. 120-155 -> Carlisle
REBDECUS(?) 125-160

Table 1.  Principal Wilderspool mortarium potters


Hadrianic and Antonine.


Wilderspool, Warrington (Cheshire).


North-west England, the northern frontier zone, including the Antonine Wall; a few in north Wales.


JRPS bibliography fabric wpm.


For the Wilderspool kilns: RCHM gazetteer F240; Hartley and Webster 1973. The principal potters, and their Eden Valley connections, are discussed in McCarthy 1990, 260-262; Hinchcliffe et al. 1992, 73.


Hartley and Webster 1973. Hartley, K. F. and Webster, P. V., ‘Romano-British pottery kilns near Wilderspool’, ArchJ, 130, (1973), pp. 77-103.

Hinchcliffe et al. 1992. Hinchcliffe, J., Williams, J. H. and Williams, F., Roman Warrington. Excavations at Wilderspool 1966-9 and 1976, Brigantia Monograph, 2, Dept. of Archaeology, University of Manchester, Manchester, (1992).

McCarthy 1990. McCarthy, M. R., A Roman, Anglian and Medieval site at Blackfriars Street, Carlisle: Excavations 1977-79, Research series, 4, Cumberland And Westmorland Archaeological and Antiquarian Society, Kendal, (1990).

Distribution of Wilderspool mortaria in Britain
Roman Pottery in Britain (Tyers 1996)
  • Fabric code: WPMO (p.134)
Thumbnail images (click for higher resolution):
National Roman Fabric Reference Collection
(Dore & Tomber 1998, Museum of London Archaeology Service Monograph 2)
  • Fabric code: WIL RS (Wilderspool Red-slipped ware, p.122).
  • Fabric code: WIL WS (Wilderspool White-slipped ware, p.123).
Thumbnail images
The pottery kilns of Roman Britain (Swan 1984)
Kilns producing this ware are located at:
  • Warrington (Ches)
Further details of these sites are available through the link above, and are summarized and mapped here.
Wilderspool mortaria
URL: http://potsherd.net/atlas/Ware/WPMO • © Text 1996, 2014: Layout 2012, 2014. Some images may be linked to other web sites.