Element record MCC9199 - Roman road at 38-40 Crouch Street, Colchester

Summary

Areas of gravel defined during a watching brief and excavation in advance of redevelopment at 38-42 Crouch Street, Colchester, on the site of the (later) medieval Crouched Friars friary, were interepreted as the remains of a minor Roman road or street, aligned NE to SW across the site and heading towards the Balkerne Gate. The known extent of this metalling suggests a street c.4m in width. It should be noted, however, that areas of thin gravel surfaces were recorded during the excavation of medieval burials on the adjacent site (to the west) at number 42, Crouch Street, Colchester, excavated in 1988 (CAR 9, 248). Finds of early Roman, 1st-early 2nd century pottery, from a narrow gravel filled trench on its south side, indicate that the street was laid out in the early Roman period.

Location

Grid reference Not recorded
Map sheet Not recorded
County ESSEX
Non Parish Area COLCHESTER, COLCHESTER, ESSEX

Map

No mapped location recorded.

Type and Period (1)

Full Description

Areas of gravel defined during a watching brief and excavation in advance of redevelopment at 38-42 Crouch Street, Colchester, on the site of the (later) medieval Crouched Friars friary, were interepreted as the remains of a Roman street, aligned NE to SW across the site. The known extent of this metalling suggests a street c.4m in width. It should be noted, however, that areas of thin gravel surfaces were recorded during the excavation of medieval burials on the adjacent site at number 42, Crouch Street, Colchester, excavated in 1988 (CAR 9, 248). <1><2>

Finds of early Roman, 1st-early 2nd century pottery, from a narrow gravel filled trench on its south side, indicate that the street was laid out in the early Roman period.

The gravel areas, and other Roman features, were sealed by a deep, dark earth layer which is probably late Roman and later, which indicates that the area was open land (presumably farmed) in the later Roman and post-Roman periods; this layer extended across the entire site. The medieval church walls, of the Church of the Crouched Friars, and burials, were all cut into this layer.

The gravel filled trench on the south side of the street most probably represents a wall foundation of an early Roman building. This type of foundation is known from other early Roman buildings in the town (CAR 3, 20). <3> In the late Roman period a short length of trench filled with septaria lumps almost certainly represents the wall foundation of another Roman building south of the Roman street. A short length of foundation of similar construction on the south side of this is probably part of an internal wall, so that the building was sub-divided into at least two rooms. Pottery recovered from these features suggests that this building dates from after the mid 3rd century, although it is possible that this date could be associated with the demolition of the building or robbing of the foundations. The Roman street and buildings share a close alignment with another Roman building to the south-east (Building 160) excavated in 1971 (CAR 9, 236-44). However, the alignment of a building to the north-east (Building 162), excavated in 1973, is different to this, and follows that of a minor street further to the north (CAR 3, 138, CAR 9 fig 6.6, CAR 10, 340-41). <2><3><4>

Human bone, which is not dated, but probably represents a late Roman inhumation burial (G53) was recovered from the line of the street, indicating that the street may have gone out of use by some time in the 4th century. While some of the pottery from the site can be broadly dated to the mid 3rd-4th century, there is little that can be closely dated to the mid-late 4th century. The lack of any significant numbers of burials datable to the late Roman period reflects that from the adjacent site at 42 Crouch Street, excavated in 1988 (CAR 9, 247-48). A much greater density of Roman burials, that is late Roman inhumations, is known from the Maldon Road site, excavated in 1971, about 30m to the south-east, suggesting that this area of Crouch Street lay at the periphery of the late Roman cemetery areas to the south.

Sources/Archives (4)

  • <1> EXCAV REPORT: Benfield, S. and Brooks, H.. 2007. Crouched Friars: the medieval church structure and its associated cemetery. 38-40 Crouch Street, Colchester: January-April 2007. CAT Report 434.
  • <2> Serial: Crummy, Philip. 1993. CAR 9:Excavations of Roman and later cemeteries, churches and monastic sites in Colchester, 1971-8. 9.
  • <3> Serial: Crummy, Philip. 1981. CAR 3: Excavations at Lion Walk, Balkerne Lane and Middleborough, Colchester, Essex. 3.
  • <4> DESC TEXT: Symonds, Robin P and Wade, Sue. 1999. Colchester Archaeological Report 10: Roman pottery from excavations in Colchester, 1971-86.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

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Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Dec 8 2015 9:00AM

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