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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 58: summary

An excavation at 47 Butt Road, Colchester
by Benfield, S
(with contributions from Wade, A; Crummy, N.)

Date report completed: 30/01/2000
Location: Colchester, Essex
Map reference(s):
File size: ?? kb
Project type: Excavation
Significance of the results: *
Keywords: Roman burial, Roman pit, human bone, small finds

Summary. A small excavation on the site of an extension to the rear of 47 Butt Road revealed three late Roman inhumation burials, two of which were cut into the back-fill of a large Roman pit, possibly a sand quarry. The burials conformed to the east-west alignment of the main late Roman cemetery at Butt Road, dated after AD 320/40, and two had nailed wooden coffins. One of these was that of a young adult female, accompanied by 4 copper-alloy armlets indicating a probable burial date in the late 4th century. The other coffined burial was a decapitated adult male, and the skull, with articulated jaw and vertebrae, had been placed slightly higher in the grave fill above the area of the left knee. This decapitation appears to have been carried out in the manner of, and may represent, an execution as one of several blows causing cuts to the back of the skull had obliquely severed through one of the neck vertebrae. The third burial, that of a young adult, had been partly disturbed by later pit cutting, though there was no indication that a coffin had been present. The burial area in which the three graves are located appears separate from that of the main, probably Christian, cemetery at Butt Road.