Roman Pottery

Black Burnished Ware

Hidden away, sandwiched between the glass jar and the mortarium, is an example of many people’s favourite type of Roman pottery, a bowl of Black Burnished Ware full of oyster shells.

Whereas Samian Ware can be a bit bright red and blowsy for modern tastes BBW has a smooth dark chocolaty feel that appeals more to our time. Hundreds of fragments of BBW have been found in Alcester so it was popular with the Romans as well.

Produced in the Poole Harbour region and distributed throughout Britain from the mid-2nd to 4th centuries AD. The pottery was hand-formed, black with burnished surfaces and probably became the dominant form in many Romano-British coarse ware industries during the later 3rd-4th cent. AD.

Just to complicate things BBW 2, wheel-thrown black sand-tempered wares were produced at sites around the Thames estuary and distributed in south-east England and in northern Britain during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD.

Oysters, far from being the luxury item they are today, were staple fare in Roman times and piles of discarded shells are a regular find.


Tjw 23.10.16