A Roman-period burial ground is being excavated near the Roman circus centre and you are invited to come and have a look. The investigations are expected to last six to eight weeks so you could come lots of times and follow progress.
The site covers the former Butt Road car park. Preliminary trenching in the area a few years ago highlighted concentrations of burials and these are now to be excavated fully and removed before the area is redeveloped for housing . By the time the investigations are finished in about six to eight weeks time , the number of burials is expected to reach three figures.
The bones can reveal much about the dead people such as physical appearance, health, life expectancy and with DNA studies and the like even genetic origin. But the dig is is not simply about recovering bones. The cemeteries had structure and this means that careful excavation can show a wealth of evidence of family plots and interesting and meaningful variations in burial practice. Sometimes the burials include objects such as vessels containing food and personal items like bracelets and brooches and these also can be informative in various ways too.
Special arrangements for public access
It is usually very difficult for us to arrange public access to the excavations. This is because we usually find ourselves working on building sites where safety considerations make this impossible. On this occasion, Andersons (building contractors) and Taylor Wimpey (developers) have made special arrangements to make this possible for which we at CAT are highly delighted and much appreciative. The excavations are being funded by Taylor Wimpey.
The site tours are free and will start on Saturday 13th October at 11.00 am.
The times are as follows –
Monday to Friday: 11.00 am and 2.00 pm
Saturday: 11.00 am only.
There will also be a display of the latest finds from the excavation in the Roman Circus Centre.
Visits by school parties will be very welcome. These can accommodated any time during school hours but they need to be booked in advance please by phoning 07436273304.
Please note that the ground is rough and can be muddy so children need to wear suitable footwear.
The children will be seeing human remains. Schools and parents need to make a judgement about the wisdom of a site visit.
The site tour will probably take about 20-30 minutes. There will things to see in the Roman Circus Centre so that the visit could last an hour or so – longer if the children learn about the Roman circus.
Now for the small print but please read – it’s important
All tours will start and finish in the Roman Circus Centre
There is no access to the site or the Roman Circus Centre from Butt Road or the former Butt Road carpark. You need to get to the Centre from Circular Road North.
There is unfortunately no road access to the Roman Circus Centre at the moment. You can get there by foot by walking up Le Cateau Road or cutting across the grass next to Circular Road North (see map here).
Parking (rough surfacing though) is available at the Bovis car park nearby on Stable Road (on the right as you turn into Stable Road off Circular Road North). Please note the surface of the car park is rough. Cars are left there at your own risk.
Access to the site and the Roman Circus Centre can be muddy so please wear suitable footwear. The ground is rough underfoot too so care must be taken not to slip.
Wheelchair access is likely to be difficult from the car park. The easiest way would be by parking in the new public car park in Napier Road (next to Mersea Road) and walking to the Centre via Le Cateau Road. It’s quite a long walk unfortunately – perhaps 500 m each way.
The contractors, Andersons, have very kindly provided fencing so that visitors can reach the site without entering the parts where there are building works in progress. Nevertheless, for reasons of health and safety, visitors are asked to keep close to the guide and follow his or her instructions. This is a really important point and you are asked to help us make sure the tours can be conducted in complete safety with no disruption to the building works or archaeological excavation.