Site Event/Activity record ECC2677 - An archaeological watching brief at New Colchester Garrison (Phase 1), Colchester, 2004-5


Location New Colchester Garrison, Colchester
Grid reference TL 99299 22999 (point) (Approximate)
Map sheet TL92SE
County ESSEX



Colchester Archaeological Trust Ltd


February 2004 to August 2005



During 2002-3, large-scale evaluation (over 12km of trial-trenching) and excavation (approximately 3 hectares over three areas) was carried out in advance of the construction of the new garrison at Colchester. These works were designed to identify and record the most significant areas of archaeology within the new garrison development area. A watching brief was carried out during groundworks in areas not excavated. The Phase 1 watching brief on the new Colchester Garrison was carried out by Colchester Archaeological Trust between February 2004 and August 2005. The Phase 1 new garrison development site largely affected former farmland and public open space areas between the existing military barracks (divided numerically into areas for development purposes). The watching brief was intended to provide supplementary information on the archaeological landscape within the oppidum and to provide a mechanism to identify and record any significant remains that had not previously been identified. However, as a result of the construction methodology, ground conditions during both phases of the watching brief were not readily conducive to the observation or recording of archaeological features in any significant number. Seventy-two archaeological features and a number of stray finds were identified during the Phase 1 watching brief. Although a high proportion of the features are undated or natural/‘grubbing out’ tree holes (44%), or modern and mainly Army-related (17%), there is a high proportion of pre-modern features (39%). These are primarily fragments of Roman field ditches, the discovery of which has either confirmed the course of previously-known trackways or ditches or has filled in gaps in the field system. One cremation grave F1 and a possible inhumation cut F2 were excavated in February 2004 during the enabling works for the construction compound in Area F West. Pit WBF1 was a squarish cut containing six iron nails. All the iron nails show signs of scorching, which strongly suggests that they are pyre debris, similar to examples from early Roman cemetery sites in Colchester. No human remains or grave goods were recorded from WBF1. Though this cannot be proved to be a grave, the deposit of pyre debris suggests that WBF1 is a deliberate burial of significant material (a burnt box with iron nails). Whether there were ever any cremated human remains in the cut must remain an open question, but the absence of bone may be explained by the acidic nature of the subsoil. Pit WBF1 cut through WBF2, a rather baggy-shaped cut aligned NW-SE. No human remains or grave goods were recorded from WBF2, but its general shape suggests that it may be an inhumation grave cut (again, with the absence of bone being due to the acidic soil). <1> The Phase 2 watching brief took place between October 2006 and September 2007 (ECC2830, CAT/RPS Report 472). <2>

Sources/Archives (2)

  • <1> Watching Brief Report: Brooks, Howard (CAT) and Masefield, Robert (RPS Group). 2006. A watching brief at Colchester New Garrison (Phase 1), Colchester, Essex February 2004-August 2005. CAT Report 357.
  • <2> Watching Brief Report: Lister, Chris (CAT). 2008. A Watching Brief at Colchester New Garrison (Phase 2), Colchester, Essex, October 2006-September 2007. CAT Report 472.

Related Monuments/Buildings (20)

  • Deep Roman inhumation burial (Element)
  • Deep Roman inhumation burial (Element)
  • Early Iron Age 4-post structure (Element)
  • Early Iron Age 4-post structure (Element)
  • Early Iron Age cremation (Element)
  • Early Iron Age cremation (Element)
  • Early Iron Age/Roman field system (Element Group)
  • Ghost evidence of Early Iron Age field system (Element)
  • Group of Neolithic/Bronze Age worked flints (Element Group)
  • Iron Age loom weight fragments (Find Spot)
  • Late Iron Age cremation burial (Element)
  • Late Iron Age double-ditched trackway (Element)
  • Late Iron Age/early Roman field system (Element Group)
  • Middle Iron Age curvilinear gully (Element)
  • Middle Iron Age enclosure with an internal round-house, South of Ypres Road, Colchester (Monument)
  • Middle Iron Age placed deposit (Find Spot)
  • Placed deposit of Middle Iron Age pottery (Find Spot)
  • Roman inhumation burial (Element)
  • Roman inhumation child burial (Element)
  • Roman inhumation child burial (Element)

Parent/preceding Site Events/Activities (1)

  • Evaluation of Garrison Redevelopment Project, Colchester, 2006 (Ref: ECC2659)

Record last edited

Nov 25 2015 10:21AM

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