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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 127: summary

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Excavations of Late Iron Age and Roman features and a Roman road north of Gosbecks Archaeological Park, 1995-96
by Benfield, S
(with contributions from Bailey, J; Berridge, P; Black, E; Bojko, A; Brown, N; Cool, H; Crummy, N; Davies, J; Dickinson, B; Fryer, V; Holst, M; Knox, Dr. R; Lott, Dr. G; Major, H; Murphy, P; RIgby, V; Sealey, Dr. P; Holden, S)

Date report completed: 30/04/2002
Location: Gosbecks, Colchester, Essex
Map reference(s): TL973227
File size: 10054 kb
Project type: Excavation
Significance of the results: * *
Keywords: Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman ditch, Roman settlement, Roman pit, trackway/droveway, water-main, earthworks, Roman burial, Roman road, oven/hearth, coins, small finds, personal ornaments

Summary. The excavations in advance of development on three sites to the north of Gosbecks Archaeological Park investigated areas of late Iron Age and Roman occupation and the Roman road. There was a small amount of residual prehistoric finds mostly of late Bronze Age - early Iron Age date though there was no evidence of any activity dating to the middle Iron Age. The late Iron Age and Roman occupation was located on two adjacent sites at the western end of Cunobeline Way, and finds indicate the main phase of activity corresponded with that at Sheepen. The earliest features were part of a large ditched enclosure and several smaller ditches of late Iron Age - early Roman date. Some small pits or post-holes and three ovens were associated with these. In the early Roman period a series of rectilinear ditched enclosures was established bounded by a large ditch, and part of the area was occupied by a large number of substantial pits. The finds from these features were predominantly of Neronian date and a small number of military objects were recovered from them. Some of the finds suggest possible ritual actvity. There were two, possibly three, timber buildings which are probably all of late Iron Age-early Roman date. A few finds of Flavian - 2nd-early 3rd century date from some of the features indicate continued activity but at a much reduced level. At some point in or after the early 2nd century a wooden water-main was laid across the area and a ditched track or droveway was constructed connected to the large boundary ditch. A number of Roman burials, both cremations and inhumations were focused around the large boundary ditch. One of the cremations was located in a small square ditched enclosure and may be pre-Flavian while another probable cremation can be dated to the 4th century. The inhumations had all been provided with coffins and there were a few pottery grave goods, though almost no bone survived. All lay beyond the large boundary ditch, and all but one were aligned along it. Though not well dated one is of mid the 3rd-4th century, and all probably date from the late Roman period. Identifiable post-Roman activity was limited to a few post-Medieval features, mostly ditches. On a separate site the excavation of the Roman road demonstrated the presence of four ditches in two pairs forming a central carriage way approximately 7.0 m wide with narrower track-ways approximately 2.0 m across on each side. None of the road surface itself survived.