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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 590: summary

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An archaeological excavation and watching brief at Colchester Royal Grammar School, 6 Lexden Road, Colchester, Essex - January-March and July 2011
by Adam Wightman
(with contributions from Stephen Benfield)

Date report completed: November 2011
Location: Colchester Royal Grammar School, 6 Lexden Road, Colchester, Essex
Map reference(s): TL 98686 24834 (c)
File size: 2,204 kb
Project type: Archaeological excavation and watching brief
Significance of the results: *
Keywords: previous archaeological excavation

Summary. The excavation of footings for an extension to the Sixth Form Block (Phase I) and for a new building on the location of the former ‘boarders hut’ (Phase II) at the Colchester Royal Grammar School was the subject of an excavation and subsequent monitoring programme by the Colchester Archaeological Trust between January and July 2011. A deep deposit of topsoil and underlying dark soil (between 1m and1.4m deep) overlay the archaeology and natural sand/gravel in both development areas. The dark soil is interpreted as a post-Roman cultivated soil or ‘dark earth’. The cuts of large trenches were identified in the dark soil during Phase I. It is probable that these trenches and perhaps other unidentified excavations through the dark soil are previous archaeological excavations undertaken by teachers and students possibly prior to the construction of the previous building on the site. As a result of these excavations, a substantial quantity of Roman finds (probably originating from underlying Roman deposits) and a small amount of modern/post-medieval material had become incorporated in the dark soil. Three Roman accumulation layers were identified beneath the dark soil dark soil during Phase I and a Roman stone wall footing was discovered during Phase II. The footing was evidently at right angles to the Roman street to the north and must have been part of a structure such as a tomb or small building fronting on to it. A large quantity of Roman-period finds and debris was recovered during the excavations, including fragments of vitrified kiln or furnace lining, light slag and burnt tile which indicate some industrial activity in the Roman period on or near the site. There are also two pieces of architectural stone of probable medieval date which may derive from an ecclesiastical building.