Roman road at Colchester Royal Grammar School: August 2012

Two evaluation trenches were excavated by Adam Wightman of the Trust at the Colchester Royal Grammar School in August 2012, prior to the construction of a new performing arts block. The site is located to the west of Colchester town centre, immediately adjacent to and south of Lexden Road and within the grounds of the Colchester Royal  Grammar School.  The site is situated within the walled boundary of the school and is a greensward surrounded by trees. Map evidence indicates that this has been the case for some 150 years, when it apparently formed part of the rear garden of 12 Lexden Road.

A north-west south-east orientated Roman road was uncovered at a depth of between 1.3m and 1.6m below modern ground-level. The considerable depth of the Roman contexts in this area is attributed to the deposition of additional topsoil on the site within the past 80 years. The Roman road was first identified by schoolmaster A F Hall in the 1930s, with further excavations taking place on the site of the road in the 1950s. Two backfilled archaeological trenches from the 1950s excavations were identified. One of these trenches contained a dense concentration of Roman pottery, which was presumably discarded in the trench with the backfill. A large quantity of Roman finds was recovered during the current evaluation. One find of particular interest is a piece of worked fossiliferous limestone, which might be from Purbeck in Dorset and is from the outside of a building or monument, possibly a Roman tomb.

The site is located within an extensive Roman cemetery area. Large parts of this area have been excavated since the mid 19th century. The grounds of the school were trenched in the 1930s-1950s by Mr A F Hall, an enthusiastic teacher at the school, who discovered the course of the main Roman road to London and other Roman roads of lesser importance and also confirmed that the area was an important focus of Roman funerary activity. In the vicinity of the school, a number of Roman cremations, inhumations and tombstones have been discovered. This includes the rectangular walled cemetery with its indications of high-status cremations and inhumations which lay immediately north of and adjacent to the Roman road. A full discussion of all Roman cemetery areas in Colchester can be found in Colchester Archaeological Report 9. In 2005, the Trust excavated the remains of a Roman temple-tomb 85m south-east of the proposed development site, ahead of the building of an extension for a science laboratory (CAT Report 345) …’

See CAT Report 662 at