Today (23rd July), the Trust’s excavation team on our site at the Williams & Griffin store in the High Street at Colchester found further human remains in the Boudican destruction debris. Archaeologically, this is very important and exciting but, in human terms, very serious.
We excavated two human bones from the destruction debris on the site a couple of weeks ago (part of a jawbone and a tibia). Finds of human bone in the destruction debris are very rare – before last week, the last time that any had been excavated in Colchester was 60 years ago. This is very significant evidence from the Boudican revolt of AD 61. During the revolt, the native Britons burned the Roman towns of Colchester, London and St Albans to the ground and massacred their inhabitants. This evidence of human remains in the burned material of the Boudican destruction debris at Colchester has generated a huge amount of interest. Trust director Philip has examined the two bones and thinks that both might have been damaged by a sword blade, either before or after the death of the individual. That is, the individual or body was hacked with a sword. This indicates a violent, tragic encounter in the Roman town during the revolt of the native Britons against the colonisation of Britain by the Roman empire.
Today we found more human bone, including a radius and ulna (from the arm) and ribs, just to the north of the findspot of the human bones which we found a couple of weeks ago. This makes the site extremely important. We are now expecting to find further human remains as we continue to excavate here. Today, we also began to excavate fragments of Roman painted wall-plaster. We are now wondering if the sequence of unusual and large-scale Roman floors, made of opus signinum, which we recently discovered on the site, combined with the fragments of painted wall-plaster, represent an important building in the Roman fortress – the principia itself. The principia was the HQ of the commanding officer of Legio XX of the Roman army and of the fortress and, therefore, the man in control of the whole area at the time. The fortress and the Roman army of occupation were replaced by the later Roman town and, initially, a population of retired Roman soldiers, as part of the control of Britain which caused the native revolt and massacre of the Roman citizens…
The Trust’s excavations at the Williams & Griffin store are being funded by Fenwick Ltd.
The images show Trust excavators Felix and Patrick on site today: Felix is holding two of the human bones (the radius and ulna), and Patrick is holding some of the fragments of painted wall-plaster.