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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 113: summary

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Excavation and recording at 11 Short Wyre Street, Colchester, Essex in 1988
by Benfield, S

Date report completed: 01/03/2000
Location: Colchester town centre, Essex
Map reference(s):
File size: 3278 kb
Project type: Excavation
Significance of the results: *
Keywords: Town wall, Roman drain, ceramic building materials, medieval ditch, opus signinum, town defences, culvert, rampart, roman tile, roman pottery, samian ware, roman ditch

Summary. Recording and limited excavation were carried out on and around the town wall at 11 Short Wyre Street during redevelopment for a new Swag Shop premises. Much of the intra-mural area north of the wall was occupied by a large cellar which utilised the town wall as its south side. The Roman internal wall facing and base offset were well preserved, and in the centre of this length of wall was a Roman tile-built arched drain. A relieving arch had been constructed over the drain where it passed through the wall, and the drain itself extended 1.3 m north of the wall into the town area where it appeared to end. Though all of the previously known wall drains are located at the ends of streets, the drain here is located a short distance to the east of the nearest street and is not related to it. The drain must therefore relate to an early phase of the Roman occupation prior to the construction of the town wall which is dated circa AD 65-80. This also suggests that the street just to the west, and possibly parts of the street grid which share its alignment, is a later feature constructed after the wall had been completed. Though wall drains and interval towers are associated as both occur at the ends of streets, the stretch of exposed wall face clearly showed that there was no interval tower at this particular point. To the west of the cellar a small excavation into the rampart showed this to be similar in make-up to other recorded sections, being comprised of tips of material containing some demolition debris and pottery of early to mid 2nd-century date. Observations of contractor's stanchion holes south of the town wall revealed a batter at the base showing that the wall had been refaced in the medieval period, and that the Roman drain had been retained as an open feature at that time. Part of a large feature, possibly the north edge of the medieval town ditch, was recorded 6.5 m south of the wall line.