Monument record MCC753 - Roman Barrack Block (CAT Building 77) of the Legionary Fortress, Culver Street, Colchester


Roman Barrack Block (CAT Building 77) of the Roman Legionary Fortress, recorded during excavations at Culver Street in 1981-2 and 1984-5.


Grid reference TL 99489 25090 (point)
Map sheet TL92NE


Type and Period (21)

Full Description

During excavations at Culver Street between 1981-2 & 1984-5 (ECC337), part of a Roman legionary barrack block (CAT Building 77) was excavated. The barracks were situated on the west side of the via principalis (MCC760) and faced onto an E to W street (MCC761). To the south was another barrack block (MON523) separated by an E to W street (MCC762).

Prior to the construction of the barracks the area had been cleared of vegetation, topsoil and part of the underlying subsoil. The earliest floors of the building sealed patches of septaria chips and mortar fragments from the construction of the barrack.
The principal, load-bearing walls of the building were constructed on mortar plinths which supported a superstructure of sun-dried blocks of sandy-clay surviving, in places, up to three courses high. These were laid onto double timber-plates, some of which survived as charred fragments. The plinths were set within construction trenches, dug into the natural sand, due to the sloping ground.

The non-load bearing walls of the building were much narrower and were constructed on single timber ground-plates set within shallow slots. Some of the ground-plates survived as charred fragments. The internal walls were of 'stud-and-wattle' type.

Within the centurion's quarters at least eight rooms could be identified which were arranged on either side of a central partition wall. Only two rooms could be identified within the contubernia.

Most of the buildings floors were of sandy clay, sand or daub. Some of the floors were levelled and made-up with imported dump. Two rooms contained traces of decayed timber floors. One of these rooms may have been a washroom as it was associated with a clay/timber-lined latrine pit.
Other internal features included a raised platform, several pits, stake holes and a series of gullies containing fragments of charred timber burnt in AD 60/1. These could represent a system of timber-lined drains suggested by the fact that two of the gullies led into the latrine pit. A second latrine pit contained seed and fruit remains.

Following the military abandonment of the Legionary fortress (MCC477) and the founding of the colonia in c.AD 49, the barrack building was occupied by civilians until its destruction during the fires of the Boudican revolt in AD 60/1. During this time alterations were made to the buildings internal layout, including the insertion of new partition walls and some of the internal features went out of use and were backfilled. At least four new wooden floors were added, one of which may have utilised joists. In addition, various hearths, pits, a timber-lined cess pit and ovens were in use. By the time of the Boudican destruction the floor level within the building was 0.25m above the original level. After the buildings destruction large parts of it were obliterated during the clean up operation which followed.<1>

Sources/Archives (1)

  • <1> Monograph: Crummy, Philip. 1992. CAR 6: Excavations at Culver Street, the Gilberd School, and other sites in Colchester 1971-85. 6. pp.39-43.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Jan 20 2017 5:32PM

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