R001 – Colchester Roman BLACK-BURNISHED Ware 2

R001 - Colchester Roman BLACK-BURNISHED Ware 2
  • Roman BLACK-BURNISHED Ware 2 Bowl with Chamfer
  • 2nd Century
  • 138–193 AD
  • Antonine Dynasty
  • 122mm Diameter
  • 45mm Height
  • 60mm Base
  • Bowl has a convex face to a narrow base

Colchester Roman BLACK-BURNISHED Ware 2

Possibly manufactured on the Thames Estuary / Cliffe at Hoo 

Wheel-thrown grey or black sand-tempred wares, typically everted-rim jars with burnished lattice decoration, bead-rim and plain dishes. Produced at sites around the Thames estuary (Kent/GB and Essex/GB)and distributed in south-east England and in northern Britain during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD.


Farrar (1973) concluded that the BB2 of the north originated at a number of sites around the Thames Estuary, and Williams (1977) subsequently indicated that the petrology suggested Colchester as a major source of the northern assemblage. However substantial BB2 production assemblages have not yet been identified at Colchester and apparently similar material is present on other Thames-side sites. The principal Hadrianic-Antonine BB2 fabric at London (described below) is apparently identical to the commonest Colchester BB2 fabric, but also very similar to that from some north Kent kiln sites.

Fabric and Technology

Hard, sandy fabric, varying in colour from dark-grey or black with a brown or reddish brown core and a reddish-brown, blue-grey, black or lighter (‘pearly grey’) surface; very finely burnished with a characteristic ‘silky’ texture; abundant quartz inclusions and some black iron and mica set in a silty matrix. Wheel thrown.


Everted-rim jars, bowls and dishes. Jars and bowls have a lattice-decorated band across the body and dishes may have a single horizontal wavy line. The detail of form and decorative motifs in the assemblage from the north seems more restricted than that from sites in the south-east.


BB2 appears in small quantity below Hadrianic fire levels in London, but no evidence for production much before AD 120 and development of the style in the south-east seems to coincide with the expansion of the distribution of BB1 at that date. The fabric is common throughout the Antonine period.


Colchester, or north Kent.


The distribution of this BB2 fabric (as opposed to the other black-burnished wheel-thrown wares which are known to be circulating) in the south-east has not been defined, and is under-recorded on the map, . The general style is abundant in Kent, the London area, Hertfordshire and Essex. In the north BB2 is particularly characteristic of Antonine Wall deposits.

Kilns producing this ware are located at:

  • Colchester (Essex)
  • Heybridge (Essex)
  • Thurrock (Essex)
  • Cliffe At Hoo (Kent)
  • Cooling (Kent)
  • Gravesend (Kent)
  • Highham (Kent)
  • Shorne (Kent)


  1. Found during excavations in Colchester, Essex in the 1950’s

(ii) Part of a private collection belonging to Vicar of Portsmouth along with Roman glass and two oil lamps.

(iii) When the vicars estate went on sale in the 1990’s, it was acquired by an archeologist George Luke

(iv) Item was sold at auction in January 2021 and made up part of a private collection belonging to Stephen Robert Kuta

The Antonine Dynasty (138–193)

Antonine rule commenced with the reign of Antoninus Pius (r. 138–161 A.D.) and included those of Marcus Aurelius (r. 161–180 A.D.), Lucius Verus (r. 161–169 A.D.), and Commodus (r. 177–192 A.D.). Their dynasty reflects the connections between wealthy provincial and Italian families. They were successors of Trajan (r. 98–117 A.D.) and Hadrian (r. 117–38 A.D.), both from respectable provincial families in Spain; Hadrian had secured the line with the adoption of Antoninus Pius, who in turn adopted Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus.

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