Iron Age burial found at Playgolf Colchester

On Monday (4th February), a Roman wine amphora was discovered on the site at Playgolf Colchester in Lexden.  It was part of an Iron Age burial. This is an important discovery, because it shows that the golf club was built on a site similar in nature to the one which the Trust excavated in the 1990s opposite the zoo in Stanway. Discoveries there included the remarkable ‘doctor’s grave’ with gaming board and surgical instruments. The Playgolf Colchester site appears to have been similar in that it consisted of a ditched square enclosure containing at least one high-status burial (as indicated by the wine amphora) and a ‘chamber’. The latter, at Stanway, had originally been in the form of a large wooden box, large enough to accommodate a dead adult body surrounded by grave goods.  At Playgolf Colchester, in addition to the amphora, another discovery at the site was a pit containing fragments of very corroded iron objects. It wasn’t possible to see much of the pit but, as far as could be judged, it resembled one of the ‘chambers’ at Stanway.

These Stanway-type funerary enclosures are very rare in Britain; there is one important example at St Albans. There seem to be parallels in the Champagne region of Northern France, where the tribe of the Catuvellauni originated from. Camulodunum (Iron Age Colchester) was founded by the Catuvellauni in the latter part of the Iron Age.

(Read more about the Stanway site in the Colchester Archaeologist magazine no 11 (1998); this is available online in .pdf format at )

Playgolf Colchester is delighted with the discoveries and hopes to incorporate the results in their new facilities.

The image shows Trust archaeologist Emma Holloway with the amphora at Roman Circus House today.