Element record MCC2885 - Two Medieval walls, Alienated Land Area B1a, Colchester Garrison, Colchester


Two possible medieval structural features, possibly part of St John's abbey?, were identified during the 2007 (Stage 1b) evaluation which may have been a part of the abbey precinct.


Grid reference Centred TL 99716 24749 (13m by 1m)
Map sheet TL92SE
County ESSEX


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

Little archaeological work has so far been completed on the layout of the abbey complex and little is known about the buildings associated with it. However, we know that the buildings were first laid out in 1095 and completed in 1115, and that the cloister and other domestic buildings lay to the north of the church. In 1133 the abbey burnt down, and documentary evidence from this time states that the cloister and other buildings were then relocated to the south of the church.<2><3> A drawing of the southern elevation of the abbey’s church does exist <4>, but it is suspect as it does not show any trace of the relocated buildings.

Although we do not know exactly where either the church or the associated buildings were, we can roughly estimate their location. CAT excavations during an extension to the east side of the Garrison Officers’ Club in 1988 (findings unpublished) revealed a stone wall foundation believed to have been part of the abbey church, but none of the evaluation tranches (from 2002 or this report) found any feature associated with it. This would place the church further to the east of the area and the cloister and other buildings to the south-east, although it must be remembered that other associated buildings are likely to be located throughout the precinct. All of this would have implications for any subsequent work on Areas B1a, B1b and B2.

However, although most of the features associated with the church, cloister and other buildings appear to be located further to the east of Area B1a, two possible medieval structural features were identified in trench 7 which may have been a part of the abbey precinct. The first was a wall foundation which was probably medieval in date, and the second – an early wall foundation which had been completely robbed out by a later post-medieval feature. This wall foundation would have been located at right-angles to the first wall and, both being roughly the same level, they are likely to be contemporary, although this cannot be stated with any certainty. However, if the two were a part of the same structure, the lack of similar walls in trench 8 suggests the building was not extensive.

Further medieval activity within the area is confirmed by the presence of a quantity of residual medieval pottery found across the trenches. This material most probably came from the abbey site and it indicates that domestic/occupation activity associated with the abbey did occur on area B1a. Furthermore, although none have as yet been found, there is also the possibility that monastic burials could be located within the area.<1>

Sources/Archives (4)

  • <1> Evaluation Report: Pooley, L., Brooks, H. and Holloway, B. (CAT). 2007. Stage 1b archaeological evaluation, Alienated Land Area B1a, Colchester Garrison. pp.14-15.
  • <2> Monograph: Cooper, Janet (Ed). 1994. Vol. IX, The Borough of Colchester, A History of the County of Essex. Volume IX. p.303.
  • <3> Monograph: Crummy, Philip. 1981. CAR 1: Aspects of Anglo-Saxon and Norman Colchester. 1. pp.40-41.
  • <4> Monograph: Crummy, Philip. 1981. CAR 1: Aspects of Anglo-Saxon and Norman Colchester. 1. Morant 1748, 2 facing p.36.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Dec 20 2016 2:05PM

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