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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 1092: summary

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Archaeological excavations at Castle House, Castle Bailey, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1TH:June-July 2014 & April-June & December 2015
by Donald Shimmin
(with contributions from Philip Crummy, Stephen Benfield, Laura Pooley, Adam Wightman, Kevin Hayward and Penny Coombe )

Date report completed: June-July 2014 & April-June & December 2015
Location: Castle House, Castle Bailey, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1TH
Map reference(s): TL 9985 2524
File size: 33991 kb
Project type: Excavation
Significance of the results:

Summary. Previous archaeological work had established that a monumental Roman arcade crossed the Castle House site from east to west. The arcade formed the impressive south front of a large rectangular precinct within which stood the Temple of Claudius.

In 2014, prior to the redevelopment of the site, two trenches were dug in the northern part of the site. This area lay immediately to the north of the arcade and was previously largely unexcavated. In the more westerly trench, CAT uncovered part of a Roman attached column that must have fallen from the arcade. It lay in thick deposits of demolition debris dating from the 11th and/or 12th centuries. In the other trench, a quantity of pottery of probable 12th-century date, as well as many fragments of animal bone and shell, were recovered from a gully and associated deposits. An inhumation burial, of probable 16th- or 17th-century date, was partially uncovered at the northern end of the more westerly trench.

Excavation resumed in 2015 beneath the floor of Castle House, while construction work was still in progress. Three rectangular holes for glazed viewing panels were built into the modern concrete floor. This enabled the remains of the Roman arcade to be uncovered under the floor and put on permanent display. The foundation platform that supported the Roman arcade was uncovered for approximately 12.7 m east-west. The remains of three piers and four revetting walls were exposed on top of the foundation platform. Much of the 2015 site had been excavated previously in 1964, so most of the archaeological deposits that overlay the arcade had already been removed. However, undisturbed deposits survived in a few places, and these were recorded and, where necessary, excavated. A review of the evidence for the date of construction of the arcade indicates that it was probably built before the Boudiccan revolt of AD 61.