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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 44: summary

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Excavations at the Co-operative Society's stores, 21-31 Long Wyre Street, Colchester, Essex, in 1998
by Brooks, H
(with contributions from Benfield, S; Bird, J; Bojko, A; Cool, H; Crummy, N; Davies, J; Dickinson, B; Fryer, V; Hassall, M; Keays, L; Sealey, Dr P; Tyler, S; Wade, A; Walker, H)

Date report completed: 31/05/1998
Location: Colchester town centre, Essex
Map reference(s): TY13080
File size: 27600 kb
Project type: Other
Significance of the results: * *
Keywords: Mosaic pavement, Roman building, Boudican destruction, Roman pit, Roman street, medieval pit, small finds, Roman pottery, Anglo-Saxon pottery, medieval pottery, Roman painted wall plaster, animal bone, oven/hearth, tessellated floor, tesserae, insulae, votive deposit, samian ware, lamp, coins,

Summary. The north-south Roman street separating Insulas 37 and 38a of the Roman town of Colonia Claudia Victricensis lies under the Co-operative Society's store in Long Wyre Street. The store spans a 30-m strip along the eastern edge of Insula 37 and a thin slice of the western edge of Insula 38a. Excavations before redevelopment in 1998 uncovered the following periods of activity: Period I - c AD 43-late 50s Several rows of small post holes cut into natural sand, covered by patchy sand and clay floors. Period II - Boudican: c late 50s-60/61 AD Clay floors with occupation dirt on them (no contemporary walls were found). Period III - post-Boudican: later 1st century AD A building with stone-filled wall-footing trenches and clay floors. The contemporary Roman street between Insulas 37 and 38a was seen in several pile-cap holes. The street sealed the edge of a cut which could be the drain line identified in a similar position at 7-15 Long Wyre Street. However, no water-pipes were seen in 1998. Period IV - early to mid 2nd century A substantial addition to the Period 3 building in the form of new clay walls and associated clay floors. The laying of a new pebble-in-mortar floor was associated with two complete pots, which are presumed to be ritual foundation deposits. Period V - late 2nd century Activity including the construction of an oven. Associated fragments of walls, floor patches. Period VI - early-mid 3rd century A structure defined by slots and associated with a gravel surface was built over the remains of the clay-block wall house. The slots presumably held timber ground plates, since robbed out. A third ritually deposited pot. Period VII - after AD 270 and later 3rd century A new house with deep, rubble-in-mortar foundations. Parts of nine(?) rooms of this house coincide with the excavated area, but it was clearly a much larger structure. There is a good correlation between these walls and those recorded by Horace Calver on the plot north and east of the current site. A single and tiny patch of floor was tessellated. Other tessellated floors observed in contractor's test pits are presumably contemporary. Period VIII - late 3rd-early 4th century A thick layer of demolition debris with much roof tile indicates large-scale demolition of the Period VII house. Period IX - early 4th century Various cuts into the demolition debris above (robbing activity?). (There was Saxon material in residual positions, but no deposits or structures). Period X - medieval Robbing of the Period 7 walls (12th-13th century) followed by digging of rubbish pits in 13th-14th century. Period XI - post-medieval Large-scale pit digging along the southern edge of the site. Period XII - modern Walls, concrete stanchions, pits - much of it associated with recent Co-operative Society's store building.