Monument record MCC441 - Precinct wall of St John's Abbey, Colchester

Summary

Medieval Abbey precinct wall with origins in 11th or 12th century? Partially demolished.

Location

Grid reference Centred TL 99795 24681 (250m by 300m)
Map sheet TL92SE
County ESSEX
Non Parish Area COLCHESTER, COLCHESTER, ESSEX

Map

Type and Period (1)

Full Description

The precinct wall of St John's Abbey, only fragments of the original wall survive. However, most of the original course is known.

About 140m of surviving abbey wall was destroyed in 1972 as part of the work for St Botolph's roundabout. The wall stood to a height of about 2.75m and tapered in width from about 1.0m at the base to 0.6m at the top. Once 16th century brick and stone refacing had been removed an older wall was revealed, the original structure was built entirely of reused Roman building materials and the original face contained many put-log holes. A dump of soil thought to relate to the fire of 1133 sat against the base of the wall suggesting the wall could be an original feature of the abbey, laid out in 1095. The absence of peg tile suggests that the wall must be pre late 13th century. The refacing of the wall is likely to have been the work of the Lucas family who took over the precinct soon after the dissolution.<1>

At St Giles Church, the line of the precinct wall appears to have been moved southwards during the Lucas family period (late 16th century-1648); this was to enable parishioners to access the church from the north without having to pass through the precinct grounds.<2>

The precinct wall is shown on Speeds map of 1610.<3>

In 1972, the north-east corner of the precinct was lowered by machine for a new roundabout and as a result the inside of the precinct wall was exposed and recorded during a watching brief. For much of its length the inner face was well preserved and revealed put-log holes.<4> About 140m of the surviving abbey wall was destroyed. The wall stood to a height of about 2.75m. The wall may have predated the 13th century.<5>

The southern face of the abbey precinct wall foundation was exposed in Trench 26 of the evaluation in 2007. It was solidly built with Roman brick and tile, septaria chunks and greensand fragments bonded in a yellow sandy lime mortar.<6>

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Serial: Crummy, Philip. 1993. CAR 9:Excavations of Roman and later cemeteries, churches and monastic sites in Colchester, 1971-8. 9. p.219.
  • <2> Serial: Crummy, Philip. 1993. CAR 9:Excavations of Roman and later cemeteries, churches and monastic sites in Colchester, 1971-8. 9. pp.227.
  • <3> Cartographic materials: Speed, J. 1610. Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain.
  • <4> Monograph: Crummy, Philip. 1981. CAR 1: Aspects of Anglo-Saxon and Norman Colchester. 1. p.41.
  • <5> Serial: Crummy, Philip. 1993. CAR 9:Excavations of Roman and later cemeteries, churches and monastic sites in Colchester, 1971-8. 9. pp.219-221.
  • <6> Evaluation Report: Brooks, H., Holloway, B. and Masefield, R.. 2008. Stage 1b archaeological evaluation, Alienated Land Area B1b, Colchester Garrison, Colchester, Essex, July-September 2007. CAT Report 438.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (4)

Record last edited

Sep 19 2016 10:23AM

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