Stamp of Gallo-Belgic potter ATTISSVS.
Selection of imported Gallo-Belgic wares from King Harry Lane,
Verulamium and Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.
Photo Ó Catherine Johns

Map showing provisional distribution of terra nigra.


The Institute of Archaeology, Oxford University is hosting a project on Gallo-Belgic pottery funded through the Leverhulme Trust. Jane Timby and Val Rigby are carrying out the work on a part time basis over the next three years.

The aim of the research is to look at the nature and degree of social, political and economic change in Britain in the Late Pre-Roman Iron Age (LPRIA) and early Roman periods using a distinctive artefact type, whilst at the same time producing a definitive account of the Gallo-Belgic industry and the distribution of its products to Britain. Part of the work will include a catalogue of all known potters' stamps.

The LPRIA was a period of considerable change in Britain reflected in all aspects of the archaeological record, settlement, domestic architecture, material culture, tribal territories, burial customs, the emergence of a wealthy elite and the emergence of political figures. Some of these changes are seen in the appearance of traded goods demonstrating wide ranging contact with Gaul and the Mediterranean both for visible goods such as pottery and metalwork and for perishable items such as foodstuffs and wine.

Gallo-Belgic pottery was one such import to appear in Britain from the last two decades of the 1st century BC and 1st century AD. Made in workshops spread across northern Gaul it represents the first mass-produced fine ware to be made in Northern Europe. The products are mainly tablewares: cups beakers and platters, often bearing the potters name stamp, usually in a black ware (terra nigra) or a red ware (terra rubra). These vessels represent a completely new repertoire of forms and a technology not previously known in Britain. The new forms became widely copied by the indigenous potters even illiterate copies of the name stamps. The appearance of such imports into Britain thus had great significance for economic, social, cultural, technological and symbolic reasons. They show a great increase in cross-channel trade; their presence serves as a useful chronological indicator; they reflect social stratification and communicate changes in eating and drinking habits, not only in content but in practice.

The detailed data will be available in electronic format accompanied by a book. In order that the data remains a viable academic resource a copy will be lodged with the Archaeological Data Service for long term curation and for active updating in the future.

The authors would be keen to hear of any recent discoveries of imported Gallo-Belgic pottery from sites in Britain, particularly that which may be currently unpublished or relegated to grey literature. They can be cotacted at:

The Institute of Archaeology
36, Beaumont St
Oxford OX1 2PG






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