Site Event/Activity record ECC670 - Excavations along Balkerne Lane / Crouch Street, Colchester, 1962


Location Balkerne Lane / Crouch Street, Colchester
Grid reference TL 99261 25011 (point)
Map sheet TL92NE



Colchester Excavation Committee


July to September 1962



A month-long excavation was undertaken at a site on the corner of Crouch Street/Balkerne Lane in 1962, directed by B.P. Blake on behalf of the Colchester Excavation Committee, and part funded by a grant from the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works. Initial investigations began on 28th July which led to the discovery of traces of a Roman building on 17th August. Within the week the main excavations had been initiated. Unfortunately site works had commenced prior to the excavation and some of the site had been quarried away to a depth of 8-10 ft into the natural sands and gravels. However, excavation revealed Roman houses of the Colonia's initial phase covered by Boudican destruction, and a later and more substantial Roman masonry house built to the north of the site. A later addition to this building was excavated and found to comprise one extra room with a mosaic floor and a large walled courtyard extending almost to the southern town wall. Very large post-Roman pits which may have been quarries for sand and gravel were found to have been dug through the Roman levels and skeletons were discovered laid West-East in mortared stone and tile coffin-shaped cists. These internments may have formed part of the southern section of an earlier churchyard of St. Mary-at-the-Walls which adjoins the site to the north. The excavations also showed that the 17th century destruction of the town wall had left little of its bank intact.<1><2><3><4> The burials have not been published. Their special interest lies in the fact that rough lumps of stone and tile were used to line the graves, and in particular were placed around the skulls. This technique is indicative of a pre-Conquest date, and may well go back to the middle Saxon period (not to be confused with medieval 'lined' graves). <5>

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <1> Serial: Colchester Museums. 1974. Colchester Museum Reports 1962-1974. 1962-1974. p7.
  • <2> Serial: Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies. 1963. Vol. LIII Journal of Roman Studies. I & II. p138.
  • <3> Serial: The Essex Society for Archaeology and History. 1968. Vol. 2 (Third Series) Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society. II. p139.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Various. 1962. Colchester SMR file: 'Balkerne Lane 62/63'.
  • <5> Monograph: Rodwell, Warwick J with Rodwell, KA. 1977. Historic Churches: a wasting asset. p33.

Related Monuments/Buildings (5)

  • Rampart of the Roman town walls, Colchester (Monument)
  • Roman building in the south-west corner of the town (Insula 33a), Balkerne Lane / Crouch Street, Colchester (Monument)
  • St Mary's at the Walls Churchyard, Church Street, Colchester (Monument)
  • Town Wall, Colchester (Monument)
  • Wall (Part of Barracks) Balkerne Lane (Element)

Record last edited

Apr 26 2016 3:40PM

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