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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 1880: summary

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Archaeological evaluation on land north of Clacton Road, Elmstead Market, Essex, CO7 7FD: November-December 2022
by Dr Elliott Hicks and Laura Pooley
(with contributions from Dr Matthew Loughton, Alec Wade, Adam Wightman and Lisa Gray)

Date report completed: May 2023
Location: land north of Clacton Road, Elmstead Market, Essex, CO7 7FD
Map reference(s): TM 07300 23885
File size: 5575KB kb
Project type: Evaluation
Significance of the results:
Keywords: Elmstead Market, Roman, Evaluation,

Summary. An archaeological evaluation (59 trial-trenches) was carried out on land north of Clacton Road, Elmstead Market, Essex in advance of the construction of a new commercial and residential development. Cropmarks covered the development site, and recent archaeological investigations on fields immediately to the south of Clacton Road revealed evidence for Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age monuments including a ring-ditch, a Late Iron Age/early Roman enclosure with unurned cremations burials, and late 1st to 3rd century enclosures. These enclosures were approached by at least four trackways or droveways, and significant discoveries included a timber well. The large assemblage of Roman pottery, brick and tile from the site indicated the presence of a settlement in the immediate vicinity with a masonry structure with tiled roof and hypocaust. It seems likely that the excavated site was part of the wider estate of a large farmstead or villa. This archaeological evaluation on land north of Clacton Road revealed features of prehistoric (5%), early Roman (16%), Roman (13%), Roman/post-Roman (3%), medieval (1%) and postmedieval/modern (13%) date, as well as a large number of undated features (44%) and some natural features (5%). The vast majority of the features were ditches, followed by pits, postholes and tree-throws. Prehistoric activity was scarce but three of the ten features identified could be more closely-dated to the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age, and included the discovery of a barbed and tanged arrowhead. The main focus of activity belongs to the early Roman period, and further investigation at the site may determine that many of the features dated as Roman also belong to this early period. The most significant discovery was two features containing considerable quantities of early Roman pottery wasters and kiln debris. This would indicate the likely presence of pottery kilns on the development site, and therefore the presence of an early Roman pottery industry at Elmstead. Ditches also crossed the site, likely forming field boundaries or enclosures. It is highly likely that both the pottery industry and field boundaries are associated with the archaeological remains to the south of the Clacton Road. Interestingly though, aside from the pottery wasters and kiln debris, very few Roman finds were recovered from the evaluation, suggesting that the site is located away from the main focus of settlement. Also identified were the roadside ditches of a trackway or droveway, recorded initially as a cropmark and first investigated during excavations south of Clacton Road, where it led to the larger of the two late 1st to 3rd century enclosures. Two gullies on the far southeastern boundary produced the only medieval pottery from the site. Four post-medieval/modern field boundary ditches were also investigated, with three of them present on the 1st edition OS map. Post-medieval/modern pits, some of considerable size, were also present.