Monument record MCC1760 - Roman Head Gate, Head Street, Colchester


Roman gate (SW entrance to town), Head Street. Head Gate was also the principal Medieval gate into the walled town, first recorded as ‘Havedgate’ in 1207.


Grid reference TL 99416 25001 (point)
Map sheet TL92NE


Type and Period (2)

Full Description

Roman gate at south-west entrance to town (Head Gate). See Also Town Wall (MCC859).

Head gate was also the principal Medieval gate in the town. However, this may have been just to the north of the site of the Roman gate as in 1635 there was a house in the corner formed by the wall on the south and the gate on the east <1>, and no trace of medieval work has been seen in the small portion of the Roman gate which has been examined.<2>

A watching brief was held during resurfacing work at the junction of Sir Isaac's Walk and Head Street. Several fragments of Roman wall were uncovered 0.3-0.5m below the ground level. Although these remains had been extensively damaged during the laying of modern services it was clear they belonged to the eastern side of the south-west gate of the Roman town. Part of the west face of the east side of the gate survived intact to a height of 0.7m above the original ground surface. The north-west corners and parts of the northern face of this east side were also located. The face was traced for approximately 1.3m southwards. Some Roman? gravel metalling butted on to the face of the gate. Three other fragments of wall were found which appeared to be in situ. The most important of these was a section of wall which included part of the north face. This lay 1.7m east of the north-west corner of the gate.<3>

A note in a manuscript book of Alderman H. Laver, dated 18/8/1893, reads: 'In excavating a trench in Head Street to replace a gas main the men came upon some brickwork and also portions of a rubble stone wall at a depth of four feet, directly opposite the remains of the Roman wall in Sir Isaac's Walk.' <4>

In 1913 excavations to repair the town drains revealed a number of interesting features along Head Street and St John's Street. The trench revealed part of the Head Gate, a few feet north of the tablet which was located wall of 'the new Liberal Club' (now gone) and also a section of town ditch. About 10 yards to the north of the Roman remains a cellar wall was found in the roadway composed of small bricks of the medieval period. For a full account of the other discoveries please refer to <5>. For a detailed review of this article see Hull's notes.<6>

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> COLLECTION / PARENT: Various. Essex Records Office Miscellaneous Documents. E.R.O., D/B 5 Cb1/10, f.169..
  • <2> Monograph: Cooper, Janet (Ed). 1994. Vol. IX, The Borough of Colchester, A History of the County of Essex. Volume IX. p.250.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Colchester Archaeological Trust Ltd. 1985-1995. Colchester Archaeological Trust Unpublished Archive. p.28.
  • <4> Monograph: Hull, M.R.. 1958. Roman Colchester: Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London. No. XX. p.60.
  • <5> Serial: The Essex Society for Archaeology and History. 1915. Vol. 13 (New Series) Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society. Vol. XIII (New Series). p.107.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Hull, M. Rex. Roman Colchester II: Extramural and Walls. II. two pages after Wire's fold out map.

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Record last edited

Feb 6 2017 11:29AM

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