Roman Amphorae: a digital resource

University of Southampton, 2005 (updated 2014)

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Dressel 2-4 in Verulamium Region White Ware

Distinctive Features

These amphorae have most of the standard features of the Dressel 2-4 type: a beaded rim; a pair of tall, bifurcated, vertical handles (though sometimes slightly pointed, in the manner of a Dressel 43 handle); a sharp angle from the shoulder to the straight upper body; and a tapering lower body. Only one solid spike has been found so far. The most distinctive feature is the presence of rows of stabbed perforations on the underside of the handles. It is not certain if these were made deliberately to prevent the handles exploding in the kiln, or if they were made accidentally by formwork that was pinned to the handles during the drying process. One of the neck sherds from Brockley Hill contained the stamp DARESFE.

Chemical analysis has revealed that the interior surfaces were sometimes coated with resin, possibly a pine resin derived from Pinus sylvestris L. (Scots Pine).

Diameter (rim, external): range, 115-135mm, most commonly approx. 125mm
Diameter (neck): normally approx. 110mm; one example approx. 125mm
Diameter (upper body, maximum): normally approx. 300mm
See characteristics

Date Range

The Colchester finds come from the earliest levels at Lion Walk, the fortress phase (AD 43-49). This makes them among the earliest products of the Verulamium Region industry, and it is possible that production occurred only during the Claudian period. The Brockley Hill and London (Southwark) finds are associated with material of slightly later date - Neronian/early Flavian (AD 60-80) - but they may well have been redeposited.
Search: [1st century AD]


Fabric analysis, the use of a mortarium die, and the discovery of a dump of around 75kg of wasters (from up to 30 different vessels), all point to Brockley Hill, Hertfordshire (part of the Verulamium Region industry) as the source. Interestingly, the Brockley Hill dump contained neither wasters nor spikes, and the amphorae had evidently been ‘finished’ by applying an internal coating of resin. Possibly they were ‘surplus’ - an order that was never collected by the client. Then they were broken up, the spikes salvaged for reuse as kiln furniture, and the rest dumped by the roadside. The stamp/die DARESFE is also found on mortaria thought to have been made in the Brockley Hill - Radlett region (Castlle, 1978). No evidence has far been discovered for production at Moorgate or any other Verulamium Region kiln site.
Search: [Great Britain] [North West Europe]


Very rare. Colchester, Lion Walk (40-50 examples, Symonds & Wade, 1999) is by far the largest known group apart from the Brockley Hill site itself. Two occurrences in Southwark (52SOS89 and BGH95) are the only examples in London.
Search: [Great Britain] [North West Europe]


Unknown but wine is supposed. Chemical analysis has revealed that the interior surfaces were sometimes coated with resin, possibly a pine resin derived from Pinus sylvestris L. (Scots Pine).
Search: [Wine]


Principal contributors: Francis Grew and Fiona Seeley


Callender 2
Koan Amphora
Peacock & Williams 10

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