Site Event/Activity record ECC2753 - Trial trenched evaluation on Alienated Land Area B1a (Stage 1b), Colchester Garrison, Colchester, 2007


Location Alienated Land Area B1a, Colchester Garrison, Colchester
Grid reference Centred TL 99720 24726 (60m by 50m)
Map sheet TL92SE
County ESSEX



Colchester Archaeological Trust Ltd


January 2007



Two evaluation trenches (totalling 82m by 1.8m; T7 east and T7 west and T8) were located within Area B1a of the Colchester Garrison Alienated Land redevelopment site, to the southwest of St John's Abbey Gatehouse and within the Abbey Precinct, and excavated by Colchester Archaeological Trust in January 2007. In total, 22 archaeological features were identified: five Roman, one medieval, three late medieval/early post-medieval, nine early post medieval, two modern, and two undated. <1> Natural was exposed in the eastern part of T7 at 1.33m below modern ground-level (30.41m AOD) and 1.4m below modern ground-level in T7 west (30.31m AOD), with a medieval accumulation layer 0.3-0.45m deep above natural. The trench was substantially deeper than T8 to the south, reflecting post-medieval ground-levelling which raisied the northern area. All of the eight recorded features were either medieval or post-medieval in date and they consisted of three ditches (F15, F16, F19), two pits (F21, F23), a robber trench (F17), a wall foundation (F20), and a foundation plinth (F22). In T8, at the northern end of the trench, natural was exposed at 0.25-0.40m below modern ground-level (31.46m AOD). However, the southern 10m of trench was cut through a raised terrace in the modern garden and therefore produced a deeper sequence with natural exposed at 1.00m below modern ground-level (31.68m AOD). Fourteen archaeological features were identified. The earliest recorded features were three Roman pits (F5, F7, F14) and two Roman post-holes (F11, F13). All five of these features were located within the southern half of the trench and produced a significant quantity of Roman domestic, and some structural material (ie brick, tile, imbrex, painted wall-plaster). Five features were also identified as early post-medieval. These were four pits (F2, F3, F6, F9) and a ditch (F8), each of which contained a small quantity of post medieval material as well as a large amount of residual Roman finds. The remaining four features were identified as a modern post-hole (F1), a modern pit (F10), and two undated pits (F4 and F12, although F12 must be post-Roman as it cuts F7). Five Roman features were identified within the evaluation trenches along with a large quantity of residual Roman material. The Roman features provide evidence for Roman domestic/settlement activity in the vicinity of the circus, which centres on the 2nd-3rd centuries. In total, the evaluation produced just under 6 kg of Roman pottery, with the majority (probably) of early 2nd- to early-mid 3rd century date. While there are no whole pots, several pots are represented by large sherds that from a significant part of the vessel and can be described as partial pots. The partial pots suggest vessels broken on the site close to the location where they were recovered, and they could represent grave goods displaced from burials. There was a large quantity of Roman brick and tile, 26 pieces of painted wall-plaster from the evaluation and also a 4th century coin from the evaluation. The medieval features and finds (including a wall foundation) are probably associated with St John’s Abbey. The early post-medieval features consisted mainly of ditches and pits, but an interesting structural feature may represent a pre-dissolution building recorded on Speed’s map of 1610. The 'foundation plinth' in T7 indicates the presence of a building or buildings on the site in the early post-medieval period which were aligned east-west, and located within 10 metres of the abbey gatehouse in line with its southern wall. The mixed quality of the post-Roman material indicates post-medieval activity on a site which also has medieval occupation. Only two pottery groups (from F21 and F23 respectively) are good, and apparently closed groups, dating to the 15th or 16th centuries. Part of the trial-trenching had previously been undertaken in advance of outline planning permission in 2002 (Stage 1a)(CAT Report 206). <2>

Sources/Archives (2)

  • <1> Evaluation Report: Pooley, L., Brooks, H. and Holloway, B. (CAT). 2007. Stage 1b archaeological evaluation, Alienated Land Area B1a, Colchester Garrison. CAT Report 405.
  • <2> Evaluation Report: Brooks, Howard (CAT). 2002. An archaeological evaluation by trial-trenching on Areas A, B, D, GJ H, J, N, V and YP at Colchester Garrison PFI site, Colchester, Essex. CAT Report 206.

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

  • Medieval Abbey church of St John's, Colchester (Monument)
  • Roman settlement evidence, Alienated Land Area B1a, Colchester Garrison, Colchester (Element Group)
  • Two Medieval walls, Alienated Land Area B1a, Colchester Garrison, Colchester (Element)

Parent/preceding Site Events/Activities (1)

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

Record last edited

Nov 25 2015 2:53PM

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