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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 716: summary

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Archaeological excavation at St Helena School, Sheepen Road, Colchester, Essex - September 2013
by Ben Holloway
(with contributions from Stephen Benfield)

Date report completed: September 2013
Location: St Helena School, Sheepen Road, Colchester, Essex
Map reference(s): TL 9886 2584
File size: 349 kb
Project type: Archaeological excavation
Significance of the results: *
Keywords: Romano-Celtic temple, temenos, gravel surface

Summary. St Helena School is within the oppidum of Camulodunum and the Later Iron Age and Roman trading depot at Sheepen, and within its grounds are the remains of two Romano-Celtic temples. Proposed work is the construction of a link canopy between two existing school buildings. In terms of below-ground disturbance, this involved the excavation of twelve foundation pads each measuring 0.8m square and 0.80m deep. The position of the new canopy straddles the predicted line of the northern wall of enclosure (temenos) of Temple II. The excavation of the pads revealed no sign of the temenos wall (destroyed by previous building work?) or any cut features, but there were patches of compacted gravel in two of the pad-holes. A very small quantity of Roman tile and a mid-1st century sherd were recovered from the gravel. Layers of gravel have been seen at St Helena in 1935, 2007, and now twice in 2013. The gravel is too widespread to have been a road, so it is more likely to have been a Roman courtyard surface. However, it may slightly pre-date the temple, which was founded in the late 1st or early 2nd century.