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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 283: summary

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An archaeological watching brief and limited excavation at 60-66 East Street, Colchester, Essex: May 2003-April 2004
by Orr, K

Date report completed: 07/07/2005
Location: Colchester town centre, Essex
Map reference(s): TM00792536
File size: 2443 kb
Project type: Watching brief
Significance of the results: *
Keywords: medieval, post-medieval, ceramic building materials, wooden feature, oven/hearth, medieval and later buildings

Summary. Archaeological investigations were carried out within the interior of 60-66 East Street. The ceramic evidence indicates a start date for occupation on the site in the 12th century or possibly slightly earlier. This phase of habitation was followed by the mid 14th-century timber-framed open hall building. A wall plinth, probably from the 14th-century building, was recorded under the floorboards in Room G12. This may have been for a timber wall which divided the open hall from a parlour. The eastern extent of the 14th-century open hall building is uncertain. A sequence of medieval and post-medieval clay floors and occupation layers were exposed within this part of the building, indicating uninterrupted occupation till the present day. The peg-tile hearth in Rooms G6/G7 is likely to relate to an intermediate phase of the building (not 14th century). However, the main hearth to the open hall remains undiscovered. There is nothing in the pottery assemblage which would suggest that the building was anything other than a domestic structure. A second peg-tile hearth at the east end of the present (17th-century) building, in Room G2, provided evidence of another medieval building adjacent to the 14th-century one. There was also evidence of subsequent occupation and changing layout of the building in the 15th and 16th centuries. Three wall plinths of this period, made of various combinations of flint and peg-tile, roughly follow the alignment of the walls to the standing building. Various late post-medieval or modern brick partition wall foundations were exposed just under the floorboards. A 'witch bottle' was retrieved from behind the wooden laths at the exterior of no 60. This had probably been inserted as a protection against evil spirits in the 19th or 20th century. Unfortunately, the contractors' trenches and the archaeological excavation were restricted, making it difficult to draw firm conclusions about the structural development of the building. What can be stated is that there was a complex sequence of structures on the site and more than a neat replacement of the 14th-century open hall with the 17th-century hall (Leigh Alston pers comm).