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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 573: summary

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An archaeological evaluation at land adjacent to the M11, Great Chesterford, Essex - September 2010
by Howard Brooks and Ben Holloway

Date report completed: November 2010
Location: land adjacent to the M11, Great Chesterford, Essex
Map reference(s): TL 500 438
File size: 1,280 kb
Project type: Evaluation
Significance of the results: neg

Summary. The site lies to the north of the 4th-century walled Roman town and the 1st century Roman fort at Great Chesterford (EHER nos 4925, 4944: both Scheduled Ancient Monuments), and in an area of significant archaeological potential as established by antiquarian observations and amateur and professional investigations from the mid-18th century onwards. Excavations to the east of the site (Sewage Treatment Plant) revealed evidence of Mesolithic and Neolithic occupation. On the south boundary of the site, material connected with the walled Roman town was found during work on the M11. Following a brief issued by Essex County Council Historic Environment Management team (Archaeological evaluation on land adjacent to the M11, August 2009) an evaluation was commissioned by D.K Symes Associates and carried out by the Colchester Archaeological Trust. Because parts of the site were clearly already disturbed or infilled, five evaluation trenches (total length of 90m) were excavated in the centre of the site where original ground level could still be observed (Fig 1). The trenches were cut through a modern ploughsoil L1, and accumulation horizon L2, revealing natural L3. This sequence was observed on the E and S sides of the site (T2-T3, T5). However, on the west side (T1, T4-T5), topsoil sealed a large infilled area (F1) of redeposited natural, mixed with topsoil, and containing modern brick, metal and asphalt. The site owner (Mr Clive Onslow) says the site was used as a borrow-pit during the construction of the M11 to the east, after which it was backfilled and sealed with topsoil before being returned to agriculture. The size and fill of F1 appears to confirm this.

The evaluation revealed no archaeological features or finds. This may be due to the quarrying/infill described above, or to that caused by the removal of a bank carrying a railway spur which previously crossed the site (visible on aerial photographs).