Monument record MCC1412 - Early Roman industrial complex at Sheepen, Colchester


Early Roman industrial complex discovered at Sheepen.


Grid reference TL 98590 25612 (point)
Map sheet TL92NE
County ESSEX


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

An early Roman industrial complex at Sheepen. The site was first investigated during excavations in the 1930's (ECC328) and then again in the 1970's (ECC488 and ECC406). The complex was situated in an area of pre-Roman industrial activity (see MCC1427). Elements of the Roman complex included three phases of metalled roads (MCC610, MCC631 and MCC1382) which followed the course of an earlier pre-Roman track way (MCC598). Workshops (MCC594, MCC1388, MCC1372 and MCC1377) lined the roads both before and after the conquest and there was lots of evidence of industrial activity such as metal working detected through the remains of ovens and hearths together with waste products, crucibles, raw materials and specialist tools. Pottery production, iron-smithing and casting in copper-alloys appears to have been widespread. Casting in bronze and brass was carried out on a large scale using either ingots and sheet metal or scrap-metal objects. Large quantities of cattle bone together with what may have been a leather working stamp suggests that hides were a significant product. Other finds included iron shackles which point to the use of slaves on the site. Fragments of broken military equipment were common and these were probably used as scrap metal. The site was protected by a defensive bank and ditch (MCC553).
The location of the site near the river may mean that commerce was a major activity there. Activity on the site appears to have come to an end with the destruction of the Boudican revolt of AD 60/1. The site was later used for a small late Roman inhumation cemetery (MCC1408).<1><2>

Sources/Archives (2)

  • <1> Serial: Niblett, Rosalind. 1985. Sheepen: an early Roman industrial site at Camulodunum. 57.
  • <2> Monograph: Hawkes, C.F.C. and Hull, M.R.. 1947. Camulodunum: First Report on the Excavations at Colchester 1930-1939.

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Record last edited

Jan 30 2017 1:55PM

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