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A pre-application test-pit evaluation, comprising 11 test pits (in general, 4 x 4m in area on the surface and stepped in and down due to the depth of deposits), was undertaken across parts of the former Queen Street bus station and depot development site in April and May 2018; the work followed earlier test pit evaluation across other parts of the development site in 2017 (ECC3970, CAT Report 1106) and 2018 (ECC4102, CAT Report 1230). It also followed GPR survey of the site by Stratacan in 2017 (ECC3942).<1>
The remains of Roman buildings were preserved beneath a thick layer of dark soil in eight of the trenches (T3 & T5-T12) at depths of between 1.03m and 1.71m below modern ground level. Early medieval robber trenches excavated to extract building materials from the foundations of Roman buildings were identified in six trenches, with Roman floor layers surviving to the sides. Four of the robber trenches were wider than would be expected for the foundations of private houses and may have been dug to rob larger foundations belonging to a public building or part of a more substantial house. Roman floor surfaces included a tessellated floor and a metalled area in T7 and the remains of a mosaic floor in T3.
T5 was excavated to explore a rectilinear response on a ground-penetrating radar survey which appeared to indicate the remains of a Roman building but no (built) remains were defined; it is possible the trench was excavated through a large post medieval pit.
A trench excavated on land off Priory Street (T1) was located on the projected line of the town ditch but only modern and post-medieval deposits were identified. A trench excavated in the bus maintenance garage (T2) confirmed that the base of the town wall survives beneath the concrete floor and a trench excavated close to the town wall (T4) encountered deposits that could have been associated with the Roman rampart built up against the inside of the wall.
Finds of prehistoric, Roman, Early Anglo-Saxon, medieval, post-medieval and modern date were recovered from the evaluation trenches, although the great majority of the finds were dated to the Roman period. There was a single sherd of hand-made pottery dated as probably Early Anglo-Saxon (from F27 in T12) and two prehistoric struck flints, broadly dated as Neolithic-Bronze Age (from L55 in T3 and F42 in T11).
Evaluation Report: Wightman, Adam. 2018. Archaeological evaluation at St Botolph's (site of former bus station), Queen Street, Colchester, Essex, CO1 2PQ. CAT Report 1286.
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