the Trust’s investigation of Roman arcade in local press

Today (25th July), the Essex County Standard newspaper included an article about the Trust’s discoveries on a site at 97 High Street in Colchester. The discoveries were also published in the Colchester Daily Gazette earlier in the week, and it was posted on the Standard web-site on the 23rd. Today’s article is on page 11 and it is titled ‘New cafe to display Roman discoveries’. It begins with the sentence ‘… A cup of tea and a slice of history will be on offer at a new cafe in the shadow of Colchester Castle …’

In the article, Trust director Philip explains the Roman monumental arcade of the Temple of Claudius, and how the remains of one of the piers of the arcade – which we recently uncovered – may be displayed in the new cafe which is to be built on the site. The cafe will incorporate three glass panels in its floor, to show other remains of the arcade. Philip is very pleased that the remains will be preserved and on permanent display, and that Colchester will benefit from such an interesting addition to the town’s heritage portfolio. Philip is quoted as saying ‘… it’s only a foundation and stumps of a wall, but what we have here is the real thing, genuine Roman ruins …’ The arcade would have consisted of about 24 arches with a large central arched gateway, and it would have been about 1oo metres long and eight metres high. It would have fronted the precinct of the Temple of Claudius, the remains of which survive underneath Colchester Castle Museum and can also be viewed.

Trust archaeologist Don Shimmin is conducting our work on the site and uncovered the collapsed pier, which was built of brick and stone. Parts of the arcade may have been still standing at the time of the Norman invasion in AD 1066, and it seems that these may have been pushed over by the Normans when they were building Colchester castle and constructing its defences. The defensive system around the castle included an earthen bank, part of which was constructed on top of the remains of the arcade. The post-Roman deposits which we have excavated here, dating to the Norman period and largely relating to the earthen bank, produced a nice group of 11th-/12th-century pottery. This is relatively unusual pottery to find, although not in a place like Colchester! It is all Anglo-Norman pottery, locally made, with shell inclusions. It can be pre- or  post-Norman conquest in date, but we think that our assemblage of pottery is post-conquest and Norman. The pottery is all kitchen wares, and some of the fragments show sooting; one fragment represents a vessel with a pie-crust rim.

There has also been filming on the site by a film company making a film for children about the archaeology of Colchester for Colchester Castle Museum (with Don’s assistance!). Apparently the film is nearing completion.

Read the item on the Standard web-site at

The Trust’s work at 97 High Street is being funded by the Flying Trade Group plc.

The images show the Roman pier in situ at 97 High Street, and some fragments of the 11th-/12th-century pottery, which were being processed at Roman Circus House yesterday.


97 High St column x



pottery x