Monument record MCC475 - Road between fortress/town and main Colchester to London Road

Summary

Roman road between fortress/town and main Colchester to London Road (MCC1928), continuing southwards to Gosbecks (recorded as MCC2529).

Location

Grid reference Centred TL 9899 2500 (463m by 392m)
Map sheet TL92NE
1848 Parish ST PETER
Non Parish Area COLCHESTER, COLCHESTER, ESSEX

Map

Type and Period (1)

Full Description

A Roman road leading from the western entrance into the Roman fortress and later town towards a point where it met the main Colchester to London road in the vicinity of the Royal Grammar School.

During the excavations at Balkerne Lane between 1973 and 1976 (ECC332), a Roman military street was discovered, leading towards the west gate of the Legionary fortress (MCC477). The road consisted of gravel metalling which in places was only a few centimetres thick, sealing earlier features possibly related to the construction of the road and fortress (MCC473). Elsewhere the metalling could not be distinguished from the later, pre-Boudican re-surfacing of the street which served the early colonial town but which apparently continued on the same alignment.

The street continued in use after the Boudican destruction until the butt ends of the town ditch were joined through the addition of a small length of ditch during the 4th century AD. Once this ditch had silted up a thin layer of metalling had been laid over it. The metalling contained a coin of AD 335-7 and is believed to have been of late Roman date.<1>

A watching brief was maintained during the laying of a north-south gas main along Rawstorn Road in 1978. The trench cut through the Roman road leading south-eastwards from the Balkerne Gate and was present opposite No. 20, 22, 24 and 26.<2>

A watching brief was undertaken during the enlargement of the car parking area next to the north-east corner of the County Hospital's north-west wing. "A section through some thin Roman deposits was noted. The section was roughly 1m higher than the adjacent pavement". Described as possible gravel surface of Roman yard but on the projected line of the road.<3>

A watching brief was maintained during the archaeological excavation of the back garden of No 56 Manor Road by its occupier. Two trenches were dug in the back garden. Trench 1 revealed metalling along the northern edge of the main Colchester-London Roman road. The two metalled surfaces contained substantial quantities of sand and resembled footways rather than proper road metalling. The eastern half of the trench was occupied by a pit or trench filled with dark soil, mortar and tile. It was very irregular in outline. This pit and the metalling sealed an early Roman pit filled with greenish, loamy sand with some bone and oyster. A second trench was excavated further to the north and revealed a Greensand foundation aligned north-east to south-west. The top of the foundation was 0.7m below modern ground level. "The foundation presumably indicated the position of the frontage along the northern side of the street."<4>

A 'domestic' excavation was undertaken in the back garden of 8 Crowhurst Road (ECC676). An area 20ft by 6ft was examined and revealed a metalled Roman road with ditch (MCC1735) and adjacent building which included the corner of a tessellated pavement (MCC1734).<5>

During excavations at the Crouched Friars in 1984 (ECC698) an area of road metalling was revealed at a depth of 0.65cm. Unfortunately the southern side was cut by a substantial trench and the south-western corner was heavily pitted which meant that it was impossible to precisely locate the edge of the road or to discern its direction. The section through the road showed successive additions of metalling culminating, 'somewhat unusually in a top layer of Kentish rag.'<6>

Foundations, tessellated pavements and a roadway, near the NE corner of the junction of Crowhurst and Papillon roads, are reported, but not described, by P.G. Laver.<7><8>

Henry Laver records that, 'In cutting the drain in Rawstorn Road in 1884 the workmen cut through considerable remains, and also in the road at the back of Mr Brightwell's playground (in Manor Road) but here only about 9" thick of the foundation remained.' The remains are thought to be that of a Roman Road. Also 'In the playground of the Grammar School is a considerable depth of stones, and it was also cut through opposite the fourth house on the left in Beverley Road, and close to this spot Mr G. Joslin discovered his well known tombstone'.<9><10>

P.G. Laver records that, 'A pit was sunk at the entrance of Pope's Lane on Balkerne Hill...and revealed part of the Roman Road as it emerged from the Balkerne Gate. The remains were fragmentary, owing to earlier trenching, which had, inter alia, destroyed the margins of the road so that their nature remains uncertain'.<11> The exact position of the pit is not known.<12>

P.G. Laver records 19" of gravel metalling lying on 9" of hard rammed loam, then sand, under the blocking wall of the Balkerne Gate.<13><14>

In 1923 Laver records that a Roman Road was cut in Crowhurst Road, during the laying of a water pipe, at a depth of 3ft 6". It crossed the street at an angle, the north edge being 69ft north of the NE corner of Papillon Road. Lavers sketch shows the road surface about 12" thick, extending over a width of 23ft from just opposite the north of the door of no. 41 to just north of the door of no. 43. It is lying on a bank of gravel, both sides sloping away steeply (as if to a ditch), and here, on each side, black soil is indicated.<15><16>

Sources/Archives (16)

  • <1> Serial: Crummy, Philip. 1981. CAR 3: Excavations at Lion Walk, Balkerne Lane and Middleborough, Colchester, Essex. 3. p.93 and sections 66, 69,70, 71.
  • <2> Monograph: Crummy, Philip. 1992. CAR 6: Excavations at Culver Street, the Gilberd School, and other sites in Colchester 1971-85. 6. p.872 0/78a.
  • <3> Monograph: Crummy, Philip. 1992. CAR 6: Excavations at Culver Street, the Gilberd School, and other sites in Colchester 1971-85. 6. p.890.
  • <4> Monograph: Crummy, Philip. 1992. CAR 6: Excavations at Culver Street, the Gilberd School, and other sites in Colchester 1971-85. 6. pp.1035-1036.
  • <5> Serial: Colchester Archaeological Group. 1958. Colchester Archaeological Group Bulletin 1, part 3. Volume 1, Number 3. pp.25-26.
  • <6> Serial: Colchester Archaeological Group. 1985. Colchester Archaeological Group Bulletin 28. 30.
  • <7> Monograph: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1922. Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England): Essex, (North-East). Volume III. 15,c.
  • <8> Monograph: Hull, M. Rex. 1958. Roman Colchester: Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London. No. XX. No 209.
  • <8> DIARY: Laver, P. G.. 1916-1940. P.G. Laver's Diary. 2/8/1922.
  • <9> Monograph: Hull, M. Rex. 1958. Roman Colchester: Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London. No. XX. p.3.
  • <10> Serial: The Essex Society for Archaeology and History. 1889. Vol. 3 (New Series) Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society. Vol. III. p.126.
  • <12> Monograph: Hull, M. Rex. 1958. Roman Colchester: Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London. No. XX. p.3.
  • <13> DIARY: Laver, P. G.. 1916-1940. P.G. Laver's Diary. 6/12/1921.
  • <14> Monograph: Hull, M. Rex. 1958. Roman Colchester: Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London. No. XX. p.64.
  • <15> DIARY: Laver, P. G.. 1916-1940. P.G. Laver's Diary. 18/12/1923.
  • <16> Monograph: Hull, M. Rex. 1958. Roman Colchester: Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London. No. XX. p.3.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (11)

Record last edited

Nov 14 2016 10:26AM

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