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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 659: summary

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An archaeological watching brief at the North Primary School, John Harper Street, Colchester, Essex - July-August 2012
by Ben Holloway
(with contributions from S Benfield)

Date report completed: October 2012
Location: North Primary School, John Harper Street, Colchester, Essex
Map reference(s): TL 9919 2584 (c)
File size: 292 kb
Project type: Watching brief
Significance of the results: *
Keywords: Roman, house, suburb

Summary. The North Primary School is within the site of an extramural development with its frontages along a road leading north from the walled Roman town (Fig 1). In July-August 2012, a watching brief was undertaken during the groundworks for the construction of two small classrooms (class-bases B, C; Fig 2) and the surface of an all-weather play area in the grounds of North Primary School, John Harper Street, Colchester, Essex. These works formed the second phase of some improvements to the school, the groundworks for the first phase of which were monitored in April-May 2012 (class-base A, Fig 1; CAT Report 649). The trenches were 0.60m wide and 1.20-1.40m deep. The trenches for the strip footings for class-base B revealed a deposit of demolition debris from a Roman building, probably of 2nd- or 3rd-century date. The debris consisted of crushed painted wall-plaster, tile, and CBM. No in situ foundations or other remains were observed, but the presence of the debris strongly indicates the site of a Roman house or other building in the vicinity. Trenches for the foundations of class-base C revealed nothing but topsoil and natural. All that was revealed here of archaeological significance was a small patch of compacted gravel which, to judge by its appearance, may have been the remains of either a yard or a minor road which led to the main road out of the walled town. The existing ground-level was lowered by 600mm for the construction of the all-weather play area. The excavations for two soakaways associated with the play area were also monitored. Nothing of archaeological significance was revealed.