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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 1479: summary

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Archaeological excavation, evaluation and monitoring at Colchester Northern Gateway Sports Hub, Plots 2-3, east of Colchester Park and Ride, Mile End, Colchester, Essex, CO4 5JA
by Laura Pooley
(with contributions from Julie Curl, Lisa Gray, Matthew Loughton, Alec Wade, Adam Wightman, Robin Mathieson, Emma Holloway)

Date report completed: September 2020
Location: Colchester Northern Gateway Sports Hub, Plots 2-3, east of Colchester Park and Ride, Mile End, Colchester, Essex, CO4 5JA
Map reference(s): TL 99878 29486
File size: 25566 kb
Project type:
Significance of the results:

Summary. Between July 2018 and June 2019, Stage II archaeological investigations were carried out at Colchester Northern Gateway Sports Hub Plots 2-3, Colchester, Essex, in advance of development works. The investigations consisted of an evaluation (120 trial-trenches), excavation and monitoring. Stage I evaluation in 2017 had previously identified 24 charcoal-rich pits thought to relate to charcoal production, a small number of undated pits and tree-throws, post-medieval gunflints from the ploughsoil, and modern field boundary ditches. Stage II archaeological investigations revealed a further 132 charcoal-rich pits, seventeen of which were dated through either associated finds or radiocarbon dating, with dates ranging from the Middle Iron Age through to the post-medieval period. Three Late Iron Age hearths/cooking pits were also excavated along with 45 pits, nine pits/postholes, five postholes, five pit/treethrows, five tree-throws and two pit/natural features. Only one pit and one posthole could be dated, both were modern. Modern field boundary ditches were planned but not excavated, and another nine post-medieval gunflints were recovered from the ploughsoil. A detailed search of archaeological investigations close to the development site since 2001 has revealed a further 137 charcoal-rich pits from 14 different projects, taking the total to 269. Although only 38 of the 269 charcoal-rich pits could be dated these features appear to fall into three phases:  Phase 1: Early Iron Age to early Roman period (to 1st century AD);  Phase 2: late Anglo-Saxon to medieval period (10th to 14th centuries);  Phase 3: post-medieval period (16th century onwards). The charcoal-rich pits from Phases 1 and 2 most likely represent vidence for charcoal production in northern Colchester. The Phase 3 features could be associated with the scatter of gunflints and are possibly the remains of military campfires.