Prehistoric ring ditches found in northern Colchester

Alec and Robin standing in the centre of the two ring-ditches.

Since 2011 we have been evaluating and excavating sites in advance of the Colchester North housing development. In 2017 we excavated a medieval pottery-producing site near Cants Rose Fields (now ‘Chesterwell’), and we have recently moved south to excavate a site identified by the 2011 evaluation as a possible ‘ring-ditch’ site. There are two different interpretations of ring-ditches – they are either the ditches surrounding prehistoric burial sites, or ditches around the sites of prehistoric circular timber house. The 2011 evaluation revealed only a part of a ring-ditch, so we didn’t know which type it was. The excavation showed us the evaluation was right – it was a ring-ditch, but there were actually two of them).

It is common to find a burial centrally placed within a ring-ditch, but this site had none. It is possible that the burial urns were placed into a central mound, all traces of which have been removed by centuries of ploughing, but the truth is we don’t really know.

Howard Brooks