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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 710: summary

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Archaeological evaluation and excavation on land between 20-24 North Road, Tollesbury, Essex - May-June 2013
by Ben Holloway
(with contributions from S Benfield)

Date report completed: June 2013
Location: land between 20-24 North Road, Tollesbury, Essex
Map reference(s): TL 9546 1065
File size: 1,713 kb
Project type: Archaeological evaluation and excavation
Significance of the results: **
Keywords: Roman, building, trackway, briquetage

Summary. The site is north of Tollesbury village centre. There are cropmark sites to the west of the site which, together with cremation burials excavated by Maldon Archaeological and Historical Group, indicate that there is the site of a Roman farmstead or villa west of the current site. There are also six ‘red hills’ (salt-producing sites) within 700m of the site. A 20m-long evaluation trench within the footprint of a proposed dwelling was subsequently expanded to an open-area excavation corresponding with the footprint of the whole building. The evaluation and excavation jointly revealed five ditches, two pits and eight post-holes. There are three parallel groups of features here which appear to define part of a small Roman farmstead, probably of 2nd- to mid 3rd-century date. First, two ditches defining a trackway: second, a right-angle of ditches aligned on the trackway; third, a rectangular post-built structure to the north of the ditches. Although none of the post-holes are dated, they follow the alignment of the Roman landscape so closely that a Roman date can be suggested (the lack of finds may indicate that it was an animal shelter, rather than domestic accommodation). Notable finds include fragments of briquetage, which may have been brought to the site from nearby 'red hills'. These ditches are very likely to be part of the Roman farming estate evident in the adjacent cropmarks and cremation burials to the west. Presumably this Roman estate also controlled the local 'red hills'. There are also medieval and late medieval pits and a medieval ditch, the presence of which may explain the intrusive material in the Roman features.