Element record MCC2160 - Roman ditch ('camp ditch'), Colchester Royal Grammar School, Colchester


Roman ditch ('camp ditch') at the Royal Grammar School, recorded in 1963.


Grid reference Centred TL 9870 2481 (16m by 1m)
Map sheet TL92SE
County ESSEX


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

A Roman ditch situated to the south of the main Colchester to London Roman road (MCC1928). The ditch was of a variable finish with rounded, stepped and vertical faces. At one point the ditch was interrupted by what appeared to have been a crossing place. Despite earlier suggestions that the ditch may have been military in origin, Hull concludes that it was more likely to have been simply a trench 'cut to obtain gravel for the road.'<1>

Excavations were carried out on the site of the new canteen building at the Colchester Royal Grammar School in March 1963.<1> 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 and we decided to verify the existence of the slot in the south track and the nature of the 'camp- ditch'. Accordingly we deepened the ditch in two places simultaneously- firstly at the point where measurement from the south face of Gurney Benham house led us to expect to find the slot and secondly by similar measurement where we could expect to find the inside lip of the ditch. We came across the slot as expected at a depth of 4ft from the present surface and were able to verify the construction of the side track and the nature of its foundation upon natural sand and gravel. In the course of this work, however, we found we had hit upon what must have been a Roman rubbish pit containing a mass of broken pottery and some iron fragments. There was no time, with the builders pressing, to excavate in a very scientific or thorough manner, although we did sieve all the soil removed from below the Roman level. The rubbish pit was found to extend W for about 7ft.'<2>

Sources/Archives (2)

  • <1> Monograph: Hull, M. Rex. 1958. Roman Colchester: Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London. No. XX. pp.273-274.
  • <2> Unpublished document: 1963?. Excavation on the Canteen Site, March 1963.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Jan 24 2017 12:08PM

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