Monument record MCC8394 - Colchester - Balkerne Gate


A monumental arch was built on the western limits of the town sometime after the Boudiccan revolt.


Grid reference TL 9923 2578 (point) (FCE)
Map sheet TL92NE


Type and Period (5)

Full Description

A monumental arch was built on the western limits of the town sometime after the Boudiccan revolt. When the wall was built (120-150AD) it was taken up to the arch which was then rebuilt as the Balkerne Gate facing the London road. Originally c.107ft in length with 2 carriageways 17ft wide and two footways 6ft wide, together with guard houses. It still stands to c.15ft including to complete arches. Before the end of the C3 it ceased to function as an entrance to the town, the external ditch being dug across the causeway. <1> Road and footway flanked by massove towers each containing a large almost quadrant shaped guard house - see this source for detailed description. Plan elevation and reconstruction drawing in this source. <2> During the Roman period the N half of the gateway was destroyed, apparently by fire. On rebuilding the footway on this side disappeared and the carriageway was reduced. Yellow mortar in place of the red proclaims the change in workmanship. <3> The most remarkable monument of its kind in Britain. Provision made for 4 passageways, 2 of 17ft for vehicles in the centre and a 6ft sidewalk for foot passengers at either end, flanked in its turn by a roughly quadrant shaped bastion which acted as a guard chamber. The sideways were vaulted in brick. The S sideway, 32ft long and bastions still standing, the N to a height of 15ft, the S to 12ft. The monument was originally a two-arched triumphal arch of 75AD. In 125 when the wall was constructed it was converted into the main gate. Pedestrian ways and guardhouses were added on each side. The gateway was blocked within the Roman period but the blocking of the N half is probably late Saxon. <4> Other ref. <5>

Site Assessment = it is the largest monument of its kind in Britain, unmatched in size and preservation, though sadly hemmed in by buildings, reservoir, iron railings, and even with a public house (the King's Head) standing upon it..

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <1> DESC TEXT: Priddy, DA. unknown. SMR.
  • <2> DESC TEXT: Hull, MR. 1958. Roman Colchester. p16-21.
  • <3> DESC TEXT: RCHME. 1922. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex - Volume 3. Vol 3, p21.
  • <4> Scheduling record: Department of the Environment. 1986. DOE Scheduled Ancient Monuments. parts 5-8.
  • <5> RECORD SHEET/FORM: Ordnance Survey. unknown. OS cards. TL92NE4.1, 1976.

Finds (4)

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (0)

Record last edited

Nov 3 2015 11:41AM

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.