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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 268: summary

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Archaeological excavation at 29-39 Head Street, Colchester, Essex: May-September 2000
by Brooks, H
(with contributions from Bird, J; Cool, H; Crummy, N; Curl, J; Dickinson, B; Dungworth, D; Henig, M; Fryer, V; Hobbs, R; de Jersey, P; Kenyon, R; Locker, A; Martingell, H; Timby, J; Wise, P.)

Date report completed: 03/03/2004
Location: Colchester town centre, Essex
Map reference(s): TL99362508
File size: 15576 kb
Project type: Excavation
Significance of the results: * *
Keywords: Bronze Age, prehistoric, Iron Age, flint, coins, Roman building, Roman street, Boudican destruction, tessellated pavement, robber trench, post-medieval, mortar floor, small finds

Summary. An excavation on the site of the old Post Office (now the Odeon Cinema) revealed multiperiod occupation, principally Roman in date. The site lies in Insulas 25b and 33b of the Roman town. There was only one pre-Roman feature, but pre-Roman finds were more plentiful. They included prehistoric flints, a Bronze Age awl, Bronze Age pottery, and two silver Iron Age coins. The Roman period remains included a fortress-period plinth building (Period 1: AD 43/44 to 49) with a contemporary gravelled street; colony period buildings (Period 2: c AD 49 to 60/1) which were burnt in the Boudican revolt (Period 3: AD 60/1); a Flavian and Antonine period house with mortar floors and rubble-in-mortar footings (Period 4: c AD 80 to late 2nd century); and a late Antonine period house with tessellated pavements and an apsidal basin (Period 5: late 2nd to late 3rd century). There were no Saxon period features, but an early sceatta was found in a residual context. Medieval features consisted of a few pits and a series of robber trenches dug to remove the foundations of the Period 4 and Period 5 Roman houses. This may indicate that the site was open ground in medieval times. The post-medieval period is represented by a large number of rubbish pits dug in the rear plots of houses on the Head Street frontage. Principal post-medieval finds include a post-medieval cobble-floored brick structure, good groups of late 17th- and early 18th-century glassware, and a dump of ceramic mould debris from the 17th-century manufacture of bronze cauldrons. Buildings described here are numbers 202-207 in the Colchester Buildings series. The project was commissioned by Licet Developments (1) Ltd. Site centre is at NGR TL 9936 2508. Finds are deposited at Colchester Museums under accession code 2000.41.