Element Group record MCC341 - Roman and post-Roman features, the Gilberd School Site, Colchester


Roman and post-Roman features discovered at the Gilberd School Site, 1984-5.


Grid reference TL 99297 25282 (point)
Map sheet TL92NE
1848 Parish ST PETER


Type and Period (47)

Full Description

During excavations at the Gilberd School in 1984-5, a large number of Roman and later features were excavated in addition to the main buildings, streets and other structures.

Those features relating to the military occupation of the area included: terracing on the site of Barrack Block 1 (MCC332) which underlay deposits probably of an initial construction phase including three possible hearths. Outside Room 6 of Barrack Block 1 was a group of three small pits with intensely burnt sides which were probably bread ovens whilst immediately to the west was a large rubbish pit. A possible gully was situated at the end of the timber drain (MCC342) leading from Room 13. To the south of Rooms 6, 5 and 4, the street (MCC335) was cut by four large pits (probably rubbish pits) which contained finds including some items of military equipment and metal sheet fragments possibly associated with the industrial site to the east (MCC338). Other features in the area included an oven, seven pits and a large pit dug on the northern side of the street outside Room 10. On the south side of the street (MCC335) a wide gully received water from a drain (MCC343) to the east.

The second phase of activity in the area associated with pre-Boudican colonial buildings (MCC340), (MCC350), (MCC352) and (MCC475), included a hearth beneath the floor of Room 4 (MCC340) which may have derived from a construction phase. To the north of this building alongside an east-west street (MCC349) a possible drainage gully was noted.

Following the Boudican revolt there was little evidence for rebuilding on the site which appears to have remained a relatively open area throughout the remainder of the Roman period, although at least one building, CAT Building 137, was erected during this period (see MCC356). In the years between AD 60/1 and c.AD 250/275 activity is represented by a narrow gully which led into a shallow pit dug early in the period and situated on the south edge of the site. These were associated with a thin midden layer possibly associated with a building further to the south. This was subsequently sealed by a dump layer which contained a coin of Nero dated AD 64-7 and may have been make-up for a partly gravelled yard surface. Features associated with this included a neonatal baby burial (MCC354), a gully and some small pits. A midden deposit containing two coins of Vespasian accumulated on the surface in the first century. Other features on the western side of the site include a midden layer and large pit both of late first century date which were cut by medieval robber trenches for the stone-and-mortar foundations of one or more buildings (MCC356). North of these features were three further robber-trenches, an oven and a mortar floor.

On the western side of the site dump layers of probable early second century date included a mass of painted wall plaster and associated features included a gully and some small pits. A group of eight pits in the south east corner of the site were of broadly the same date. These were associated, and in some cases filled, with a dark occupation deposit. Three large hearths belonging to this period lay nearby. Six large pits and a gully of mid 2nd to 3rd century date were located in the central part of the site with three large pits and a gully of similar date to the west. Part of the southern plinth of MON267 was robbed during this period and there was a midden layer to the north. A large north-south gully was noted during machining

Associated with MCC361 was a gravel patch to the west which may have been the surface of a yard. Other evidence for late Roman activity took the form of four pits, one of which cut into the southern edge of the east - west street (MCC349) and one of which contained a coin of Maximian (AD 287-93). A layer of brown topsoil overlay the southern part of the site and may have been the result of late Roman cultivation.<1>

Post-Roman activity on the site took the form of eight robber-trenches which were aimed at the post-Boudican foundations of MCC356 and MCC361. The robber trenches were probably dated to the 12th or 13th century. Otherwise the site appears to have been largely unoccupied throughout the medieval and post medieval periods during which time it seems to have been used primarily for cultivation although MCC362 and MCC363 represent manufacturing activity. Over this period of use a thick layer of 'dark earth' accumulated to a depth of 1.5m.

Features which may have been associated with the cultivation of this area of the town included seven small, rubble-filled pits with probable 15th to 16th century dates and eleven small cultivation? scoops mostly situated in parallel rows which probably dated to the 16th or 17th century and lay on an east - west terrace sloping away to the north - cultivation terrace.

Modern use of the site included a large sand extraction pit and eight rubbish pits of 19th or 20th century date.<1>

Sources/Archives (1)

  • <1> Monograph: Crummy, Philip. 1992. CAR 6: Excavations at Culver Street, the Gilberd School, and other sites in Colchester 1971-85. 6. pp.127-139.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

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Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Oct 18 2016 3:07PM

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