Roman Amphorae: a digital resource

University of Southampton, 2005 (updated 2014)

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Gauloise 4/5/6 similis in Verulamium White Ware

Distinctive Features

Considering the relatively small number of sherds that have been found, these vessels exhibit a surprising variation in form and also many differences in detail from the French ‘exemplars’. It is not yet known if this lack of standardisation represents the output of different workshops, changes over time, or simply the ‘occasional’ nature of the product.

Type A.
Full-size amphora with taller neck and ovoid body. This has a comparatively wide, flat base with a collar, rather than a foot-ring. The most complete vessel of this type (Leadenhall Court; Symonds, 2003: 54, Fig 3) has a thick, flat rim (as on a common glass bottle; Isings form 50/51) and a cavetto moulding beneath. The handles are missing, though scars suggest a heavy sub-circular-sectioned, rather than a flat, strap, profile. This amphora appears to have more in common with a Gauloise 5 than a Gauloise 4 (Symonds, 2003), but is not an exact copy of either.

The upper parts of this G5-type amphorae have been found on other sites. The illustrated example (Museum of London reserve collection, 93.174, unprovenanced) has an everted, chamfered rim, a tall neck and bifurcated strap handles, which turn a right angle and drop vertically to the shoulder. The type was certainly produced at the Moorgate kiln site, external diameter: 176mm, but in no case does the body survive. To judge from a scar on the neck. It may may have had a bifurcated handle.

Type B.
The photographed example is a half size amphora unprovenanced. The existence of this type emphasises the closeness of the connection between the Gaulish and the British industries, because Laubenheimer (1985) has also recorded half-size versions of both her Gauloise1 and Gauloise 5 amphorae. It has an everted rim, chamfered sharply at the top and strap handles with a deep central groove. The vessel was made in two parts - body/base and neck/rim - and there is clear evidence on the shoulder of where the two parts were luted together. In shape and rim style, this vessel corresponds closely to a Gauloise 5 form. This particular vessel matches the Gaulish models closely in body shape (widest point much lower down than in the larger version), though its neck flares more widely at the base. Near the base of this vessel are three perforations: one circular, the second a sub-rectangular slot (perhaps cut with a saw), the third larger and more irregular. These must have been made deliberately in antiquity, and although the find spot is not recorded we can speculate this vessel was buried in a grave and had been rendered useless as a container (ritually 'killed') before burial.

Diameter (rim, external): 135mm
Diameter (body, maximum girth): 255 mm
Height: 440mm

A second vessel of this type exists as sherds and has not yet been reconstructed (179BHS89 (316)). The rim is more like the full-size type 2(b), internal ?lid-seating and a slightly square moulding above the handles. The body appears quite squat, slightly globular. Inside is a khaki/buff-coloured deposit, evidently from a liquid, which interestingly extends only halfway up the body.

Diameter (rim, external): 115mm
Diameter (shoulder, estimated): 280mm
Diameter (base): 90mm
Height (estimated): >330mm

Type C.

Full-size amphora, having a tall neck and thickened rim, with internal recess (?lid-seating). This is also distinguished by a square moulding below the rim but above the handles. The illustrated piece (MRG95 (903) P47), which comes from the Moorgate kilns, thus has characteristics of both the Gauloise 4 and Gauloise 6 types (squat, thick rim (Gauloise 4) but square moulding (Gauloise 6)). It also has a much more pronounced lid-seating than on either.

DM (rim external, max): 160mm
DM (rim/neck internal): approx. 100mm
H (shoulder to underside of rim): approx. 115mm
DM (neck at shoulder join): 115mm

The Moorgate kiln site has produced several other rim fragments of this type: external diameters 124mm (MRG95 (115) P190), 180mm (MRG95 (1805) P240). It has also produced rims of more strictly Gauloise 4 type (i.e. without the square moulding): e.g. MRG95 (741) P141, external diameter 156mm.

Unfortunately, no complete amphorae of precisely this type have survived. Very similar, however, is a vessel from GMT00 (3653), which has a chamfered rather than rounded rim. Currently in fragments, it appears to have had a conical rather than globular body and foot similar in width to the rim.

DM (rim, external): 130mm
DM (rim/neck internal): 75mm approx
DM (base): 120mm
See characteristics

Date Range

Flavian to Hadrianic
Search: [1st century AD] [2nd century AD]


Various sites in and around London and Verulamium. Two neighbouring sites in London (30 Gresham Street, and Gresham Street, GSM97) have produced particularly large assemblages. Amphorae were produced at least two kiln sites: Brockley Hill, on the east side of Watling Street (1972 excavations, site A; Castle 1974), and Moorgate, on the northern margins of Londinium (Seeley forthcoming). Not so far recorded outside London or the kiln sites. However, Verulamium Region pottery (especially mortaria ) has a wide distribution in Britain and it is likely that examples will be recognised very soon.
Search: [Great Britain] [North West Europe]


Not so far recorded outside London or the kiln sites [check]. However, Verulamium Region pottery (especially mortaria ) has a wide distribution in Britain (see Tyers: and it is likely that examples will be recognised very soon.

In London, sherds have been recorded from over 100 sites, and two neighbouring sites (30 Gresham Street, GST00; 2-12 Gresham Street, GSM97) have produced particularly large assemblages.
Search: [Great Britain] [North West Europe]




Principal contributors: Francis Grew and Fiona Seeley

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