Site Event/Activity record ECC2804 - Stage 1b trial-trenched evaluation, Alienated Land Area L/N, Colchester Garrison, Colchester, 2007


Location Alienated Land Area L/N, Colchester Garrison, Colchester
Grid reference Centred TL 98969 23890 (296m by 374m)
Map sheet TL92SE
County ESSEX



Colchester Archaeological Trust Ltd


October 2007



In total, 62 trenches (2.8% of trenching which equestes to a 1199m length of 1.8m-wide trenches; 824m of trenching in Area L (formerly Area GJ), and 460m in Area N) were excavated by Colchester Archaeological Trust in Colchester Garrison Alienated Land Areas L and N in October 2007. Colchester Garrison Alienated Land Area L/N (8.57ha.) coincides with the Goojerat Barracks south of Goojerat Road and east of Cambrai Road. Goojerat Barracks is located to the east of Cambrai Road, and south of Goojerat Road. Development proposals within Area L/N comprised the demolition of the existing 20th-century barracks (built in 1971-75 to become the headquarters of the Airportable Brigade), and the construction of residential units and an upgraded access road network. <1> Area L/N was split into five phased areas: Area L/N Phase 1: T3-T35 (T1-T2 not dug) Area L/N Phase 2a: T36-T41 (T36 not dug) Area L/N Phase 2b: T42-T48 Area L/N Phase 3: T49-T55 Area L/N Phase 4: T56-T62 (T56 not dug). The principal remains revealed by the 62 evaluation trenches were the widespread remains of barrack buildings. Around and under the buildings, there were extensive areas where the ground had been reduced (i.e. truncated) or built up (i.e. infilled). This truncation and infilling is probably due to large-scale landscaping carried out when Goojerat Barracks was constructed in 1900-1902, or when it was rebuilt in 1971-75. Only a very few prehistoric finds were recovered, all residual in later (i.e. Roman) contexts. These comprised two burnt flints from Roman ditch F48 in T13, and a small prehistoric sherd and a small flint flake from ditch F45 in T13. The presence of a number of sherds typical of the Late Iron Age is interesting (such as are found at the Sheepen site on the banks of the River Colne, where they are dated to c5 BC- AD 60 (Niblett 1985, 3; Hawkes & Hull 1947). The distribution of these sherds is strongly biased in favour of the eastern side of Area L/N, specifically T9 (3 sherds), T13a (2 sherds), T19 (13 sherds) and T21 (1 sherd). This suggests there was some Late Iron Age activity of an undefined nature on the east side of Area L/N. Furthermore, this material was concentrated mainly in the area of the later Roman ?enclosure, as defined by the Roman ditches intercepted by T19, T14 and T17. This might suggest an Late Iron Age origin for this ?enclosure. A focus of Roman activity was identified in the south-east part of Area L/N, where the configuration of ditches intercepted by (clockwise) T19, T14, and T17 hints at three sides of an ?enclosure, the fourth side of which (if it existed) may have lain beyond the eastern edge of Area L/N. A large volume of Roman building material was recovered from the ditches of this ?enclosure, from F23 in T17 and from F7 in T19. This material included not only Roman bricks and roof tiles, but also a shaped piece of limestone which was probably architectural, ie a lintel, or a threshold or window embrasure. This evidence indicates the site of a Roman building nearby (there was over 11kg of Roman building material). Most of the debris came from T17, which may indicate that the Roman building was in the northern part of the ?enclosure (although the greensand came from T19 in the southern half of the ?enclosure). The alignment of the Roman ditches in Area L/N indicates that there was a co-axial Roman farmed landscape here, aligned SW to NE and NW to SE. There were groups of post-holes and isolated post-holes at various points across Area L/N. There were seven Roman or undated and possibly Roman pits. Given that the severity of the truncation of Area L/N may have seriously affected the survival of pits and other archaeological features, it was noticeable that the pits clustered on the east edge of Area L/N and close to the ?enclosure, and also on the west edge of Area L/N. However, the pits on the western side of Area L/N only contained (collectively) a single piece of Roman tile. A small axial valley, infilled with colluvium that largely post-dates the Roman ditch (in T12), was located extending east-west to the north of the Roman ?enclosure. Three main post-medieval ditches have been identified; these were aligned across and obliquely to the Roman field system, on an east-west alignment. This field system may have had its origins in the medieval period, although material recovered was exclusively post-medieval. In addition to an agricultural landscape, there have also been episodes of post-medieval quarrying activity. This activity was most noticeable on the eastern side of the site in T24 and T7. There was considerable evidence of Goojerat Barracks itself. Structural and infrastructural elements have been identified across the site. Many of these buildings can be related to the 1900-1902 barracks buildings shown on the RE 1949 plan. Evidence for later activities still dates from when Goojerat Barracks was demolished in 1970-71 and rebuilt in 1971-75, with areas of massive infilling and truncation in the north and south of the camp. Limited trial-trenching had previously been undertaken in advance of outline planning permission in 2002 (Stage 1a). <2> In June 2010, an area excavation (approximately 5800m2) on the site of the Roman building debris and the potential enclosure showed that archaeological deposits had survived over substantial areas, despite substantial truncation by recent Garrison infrastructure. The majority of the excavated features were the multi-phased ditches of two rectilinear Late Iron Age and Roman enclosures. <3>

Sources/Archives (3)

  • <1> Evaluation Report: Brooks, Howard and Holloway, Ben (CAT). 2008. Stage 1b archaeological evaluation, Alienated Land Area L/N, Colchester Garrison, Colchester, Essex, October 2007. CAT Report 456.
  • <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.
  • <3> EXCAV REPORT: Brooks, Howard, Benfield, Stephen, Holloway, Ben (CAT), and Masefield, R. (RPS). 2012. Stage 2 archaeological excavation, Alienated Land Area L/N (Goojerat Barracks), Colchester Garrison, Colchester, Essex. CAT Report 588.

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

  • Roman field system at the former Goojerat Barracks, Colchester (Element Group)

Parent/preceding Site Events/Activities (1)

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

Record last edited

Mar 14 2016 10:26AM

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.