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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 565: summary

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Stage 1b archaeological evaluation, Alienated Land Area S2 (north and north-west), Colchester Garrison, Colchester, Essex: August-September 2010
by Howard Brooks, Ben Holloway, Rob Masefield

Date report completed: October 2010
Location: Alienated Land Area S2 (north and north-west), Colchester Garrison, Colchester, Essex
Map reference(s): TL 9950 2215 (c)
File size: 1,395 kb
Project type: Evaluation
Significance of the results:

Summary. An archaeological evaluation by 31 trial-trenches was carried out on the Garrison Alienated Land (GAL) Area N and NW, a site flanked by Roman Way (to the west), the Berechurch Dyke (to the east) the GAL Area S2 (south) 2007 excavation site (to the south), and the remaining part of the Roman Barracks (to the north). Archaeological features were thinly spread, and modern disturbance has had a noticeable impact on the underlying archaeological sequence. A small number of flints represent passing activity in the Neolithic period, but the first indication of permanent activity takes the form of three ditches dated to the prehistoric period, or else sharing alignment with dated prehistoric ditches found previously at Colchester Garrison. Together, these represent the fragmentary remains of an Iron Age, pre-oppidum landscape. The principal result of the Area S2 N and NW evaluation has been the discovery of nine Roman field ditches defining a Roman farmed landscape which (again) shares the broad NW/SE or SW/NE alignment of the Roman landscape revealed by previous evaluations at Colchester Garrison. A principal component of the farming landscape was a gravel trackway which shared the alignment of the other Roman field ditches. Wheel-ruts cut the surface of gravel trackway, and a number of post-holes are probably associated either with the trackway or the surrounding farmland. The general lack of large quantities of Roman (or earlier) finds indicates that this was essentially a rural landscape, although finds such as quern fragments show that a farmstead or other settlement cannot be too far away. The post-medieval landscape was more fragmentary than the Roman landscape, and consisted of a few ditch fragments and post-holes. Residual medieval pottery hints at an earlier phase of fields which has otherwise disappeared. However, the bulk of the post-medieval and modern features relate to the infrastructure of the barracks.