Scheduled Monument: Gosbecks Iron Age and Romano-British site (EX57)

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Authority Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
Date assigned 06 July 1939
Date last amended 30 September 2021


The Gosbecks site has a complex history of use stretching from the pre-Roman Iron Age through to the 4th century AD. Although only limited excavation has taken place, mainly in the central area, the archaeology of the site has been identified and interpreted on the basis of an excellent series of aerial photographs, further data being provided by stray and excavated finds. In the 1st or 2nd century BC the site was enclosed by the Heath Farm dyke, as it was expanded in the decades before the conquest further dykes were constructed, the most westerly being the Grymes Dyke. The site thus enclosed had a central settlement core surrounded by field systems to which it was linked by a complex network of trackways. An early feature of the site was a religious sanctuary. This pre-Roman settlement has been interpreted as the Civitas Capital, or tribal centre, of the native Belgic Trinovantes. More specifically it has been seen as the royal site of Cunobelin, the tribal leader who is recorded as having led local opposition to the Roman conquest. During the Roman period the site continued in use, although it is unlikely to have been allowed to retain all its functions as a native tribal centre. Rather it developed its religious importance and also its trading functions. A number of major public buildings including a Romano-Celtic temple complex, a theatre of a form found elsewhere in association with temple sites, and a bath house were constructed. These were laid out within a grid street plan. In addition, burials were placed to the SE of the site. The resultant complex resembles a small town, and it has been interpreted as an example of a rural fair or market place of a type previously unknown in Britain, but well-known from Gaul. Activity at the site during the 1st century AD was such that a Roman auxiliary fort, discovered as a result of aerial reconnaissance in 1976, was located immediately outside the Heath Farm Dyke to maintain surveillance over it. A road linked the Gosbecks site with the neighbouring Roman colonia of Camulodunum (modern Colchester) 8 miles to the north. Camulodunum was one of the earliest and largest of the towns of Roman Britain and the development of the Gosbecks site during the period is clearly related in some way to that of its close neighbour. Activity at the site continued throughout the Roman period, the theatre being dismantled in the 3rd century, but the rest of the site continuing into the 4th century. <1>

External Links (1)

Sources (2)

  • Article in serial: Dennis, T.J.. 2005. A geophysical survey at Gosbecks, Lambart's Farm area. Colchester Archaeological Group Bulletin Vol. 45 pp.4-10.
  • Scheduling record: Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). 1988. Gosbecks scheduling information. Source 1.



Grid reference Centred TL 9669 2175 (2135m by 2956m) Copied from NHLE dataset
Map sheet TL92SE

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Record last edited

Dec 21 2023 5:36PM

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