Monument record MCC1928 - Roman Road between London and Colchester

Summary

Roman road between London and Colchester, aligned (approx.) E to W on the west side of the walled town. Note that two possible lines of the road are projected by Hull heading west from the Grammar School. It seems probable that the northern-most alignment is most likely, based on investigations east of Silvanus Close (MCC10057) which defined a section of Roman road. This was confirmed by evaluation in 2003, when the roadside ditch was (re-) investigated (MCC2802).

Location

Grid reference Centred TL 9761 2497 (2348m by 341m)
Map sheet TL92SE
County ESSEX
Non Parish Area COLCHESTER, COLCHESTER, ESSEX

Map

Type and Period (1)

Full Description

The main Roman road from London to Colchester which runs on a course a little north of west, through the Lexden Dyke and south of the Roman town, although there is no currently evidence of the road beyond (to the east of) the intersection with Gosbecks Road (MCC2529).

The road was examined by A.F. Hall, through extensive trenching in the grounds of the Colchester Royal Grammar School (see ECC829 and ECC947). Hall's investigations led him to believe that the road was elaborate in construction, being triple-tracked and with timber revetting supporting the sides of the main, central roadway. On the north side was a 'light roadway' nearly 20ft. wide whilst to the south was another track of approximately the same width and built of sand laid on loam. The south track had a slot running down the middle of it. Between these two tracks was the main road which was 27 ft. wide. It was built of a gravel bank over a bed of loam. The gravel bank had a series of layers of lime and pebbles over it which formed successive road surfaces. Ditches were present on both the north and south sides. Further gravel metalling thought to belong to the road was observed during the recovery of the Longinus tombstone (see ECC1267) although no revetting or slot in the southern track was observed.<1>

The road was also investigated during excavations by P.R. Holbert in the garden of 26 Lexden Road (ECC693) in 1966, where a 'fairly substantial cambered surface of small stones set in clay, some 20 ft. in width with a ditch running along its northern edge' was encountered.<2><8>

A watching brief was undertaken in 1984 by J. Fawn in the former garden of Eastwell House, 24 Lexden Road, at the corner of Lexden Road and West Lodge Road. An access road cutting at the southern boundary of the site was investigated and found to contain a stratigraphically early gravel deposit possibly associated with the Roman Road previously identified at Gurney Benham House and 26 Lexden Road.<3><9>

Excavations were carried out on the site of the new canteen building at the Colchester Royal Grammar School in March 1963. A Roman Road, a slot feature and Roman rubbish pit were recorded. The report reads, 'The taking out of foundation trenches by the builders for the new canteen building encouraged us to uncover certain features of the three track Roman road the presence of which was established by Mr A.F. Hall as running almost due East-West across Gurney Benham garden. The builders' operation had already revealed a cross-section of the main bank of the road'.<4>

Laver records a Roman Road ditch in the cutting of St Clare Road; unfortunately no plan survives.<5>

P.G. Laver built and resided in the house called 'Ethelstowe' in St Clare Drive. In the garden of this house, only a short distance south of Lexden Road, part of a Roman Road was exposed.<6>

The southern roadside ditch, and part of the metalling, was defined adjacent to (and to the north of) the temple-tomb (MCC2791) at Colchester Royal Grammar School in 2005, at the point where major roads intersect (Gosbecks Road, MCC2529).<7>

NB. There seems to be some uncertain over the alignment west of the Grammar School, with two possible alignments (or two possible roads), although the northerly project seems most likely (see below). Both have been plotted as MCC1928.<10>]

The road was defined to the east of Silvanus Close by CAG during investigations between 1996-98 (MCC10057). The road was bounded to the north by two relatively straight ditches SP Features 7 & 7a. To the south the delineation was less obvious. There were no clear ditches, but rather a more or less continuous line of irregular quarry pits (a rare amphora brooch was recovered from SP F4a). The total width of the road between the ditches to the north, and the quarry pits to the south, can be estimated at c.21m, and the section uncovered is in general alignment with sections found at Colchester Grammar School to the east, and at West Lodge Road to the west. The road was cut by two unfurnished inhumation burials.<11>

The northern (recut) ditch for the Roman road (MCC2802) was identified to the east of Silvanus Close (the same site as that investigated by CAG) by evaluation in 2003, although no trace of the road itself had survived.<12>

Sources/Archives (12)

  • <1> Monograph: Hull, M. Rex. 1958. Roman Colchester: Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London. No. XX. pp.2-7.
  • <2> Serial: Colchester Archaeological Group. 1967. Colchester Archaeological Group Bulletin 10, part 2. 2. pp.13-16.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Colchester Archaeological Trust Ltd. 1985-1995. Colchester Archaeological Trust Unpublished Archive. 5/93B.
  • <4> Unpublished document: 1963?. Excavation on the Canteen Site, March 1963.
  • <5> Monograph: Hull, M. Rex. 1958. Roman Colchester: Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London. No. XX. p.13.
  • <6> Monograph: Hull, M. Rex. 1958. Roman Colchester: Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London. No. XX. p.13, No 167.
  • <7> Watching Brief Report: Brooks, Howard (CAT). 2006. A Roman temple-tomb at Colchester Royal Grammar School, 6 Lexden Road, Colchester, Essex. August-September 2005. CAT Report 345.
  • <8> Serial: Hawkes, Christopher, F. C. & Crummy, Philip. 1995. CAR 11: Camulodunum II. 11. p.160 & Fig. 6.1, no. 83.
  • <9> Serial: Hawkes, Christopher, F. C. & Crummy, Philip. 1995. CAR 11: Camulodunum II. 11. p.160 & Fig. 6.1, no. 84.
  • <10> Serial: Hawkes, Christopher, F. C. & Crummy, Philip. 1995. CAR 11: Camulodunum II. 11. Fig. 6.1.
  • <11> Excavation archive: Mallinson, John, Benfield, Stephen, Hardy, Denise & Matthews, Michael J.. 2012. Report on the 1928 and 1996 Longinus excavations.
  • <12> Evaluation Report: Essex County Council. 2003. Archaeological evaluation and watching brief. 1, 1a and 2 Beverley Road, Lexden, Colchester. p.20.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (9)

Related Events/Activities (10)

Record last edited

Dec 13 2016 2:12PM

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