Roman round barrow, c.110ft (38.5m)diameter x 22.5ft (6.8m) high. The excavators in 1912 found a small chamber, 18in. (46cm) suqare and 21in. (53cm) high, constructed of Roman tiles. Inside the chamber was a small square lead casket containing a glass bowl, which itself contained the cremated remains of an adult male, aged 35-45 and suffering a disease of the joints. The entrance passage/tunnel was constructed following the excavation in 1912. The barrow is also known as Mersea Mound, Mersea Mount or Grim's Hoe.
|Grid reference||Centred TM 0225 1433 (36m by 43m) (FCE)|
|Civil Parish||WEST MERSEA, COLCHESTER, ESSEX|
Roman round barrow, c.110ft (38.5m)diameter x 22.5ft (6.8m) high. No trace of ditch when excavated by Morant Club in 1912. Red layer beneath central area consisting of crushed tile, mortar. The burial was off-centre in a chamber made of flanged roof tiles and contained a lead casket in which were the ashes, contained in a glass flask. Possibly Flavian (AD60-90).<1>-<9>
Additional phot refs.<13><14><12>
see Mersea Museum website for the analysis of the cremated bone by J. Mackinley in 2014 (http://www.merseamuseum.org.uk/mmresdetails.php?pid=COR2_026&ba=mmbarrow [accessed 11/08/16]):
'The surviving bones identify him as a male aged between 35 and 45. (This was around the average life expectancy in ancient Rome, although the figure is skewed by the high level of infant mortality.) Most of his remains appeared 'relatively large and robust, with some marked muscle attachments, particularly in the lower limb'. He was 'regularly engaged in strenuous walking/running', and signs of soft tissue injury suggest he may have suffered a tear in one of the major thigh muscles. Far more surprisingly, evidence from spinal lesions and new, excessive bony growths indicate that he suffered from Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis [DISH], a disease of the joints which today is found mainly in men over 50. Jacqueline McKinley reports that she knows of no other cases of DISH recorded in cremated remains. This important Roman, living in a luxurious villa on beautiful Mersea Island, was likely to have suffered from stiffness and spinal pain, although these would not have been fatal unless there were complications.'
Analysis of the organic matter (the bones were described as being coated with a strange, sticky substance) from the Mersea cremation urn by Rhea Brettell, University of Bradford, identified a pine resin and frankincense.
The artefacts from the 1912 excavation are now on display in Mersea Museum.
Site Management: = Topsoil restored and seeded, elm trees removed 1975.<10><11><12>
The round barrow extent was mapped as part of the NMP update Sept 2009.<15-16>
See also digital photographs taken in July 2016.<17>
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