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Roman Colchester

  • R. E. Mortimer Wheeler and Philip G. Laver

Colchester lies at the head of an inland promontory which emerges from the undulating Essex lowlands to meet the tidal waters of the Colne estuary. On the northern and eastern sides this promontory is clasped by the winding course of the main stream, and on the south by a tributary known as the Roman River which, bending northwards, slightly restricts the otherwise open approach from the west. The eastern end of the area thus enclosed rises commandingly above the sharply-cut river valleys and the seaward marshes, which are of sufficient extent to seclude it from the risks of an open shore. The combined accessibility and security of the site at an early date attracted both the landsman and the sea-going trader, who doubtless unloaded his Gallic cargoes at wharves not far from those still frequented by a modest coastal traffic. It is no longer disputed that somewhere within the natural limits of this favoured region lay the great oppidum of the Trinovantes.

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page 139 note 1 The excellent Colchester Corporation Museum is a mine of little-explored information on the pre-Claudian trade of Essex.

page 139 note 2 Morant, , History of Colchester, ii, 25; Bodleian MSS., R 13, 69; Laver, Essex Arch. Soc. Trans. (n.s.) xi.

page 139 note 3 E.A.S.T. (n.s.) iii, vi, viii, xi.

page 140 note 1 Wire's Diary, preserved in Colchester Castle. William Wire was a Colchester watchmaker of the middle of the last century, who has laid archaeology under a debt by his accurate, if unsophisticated, records of the local events and discoveries of the period.

page 141 note 1 Cf. Haverfield, Cymmrodorion Soc. Trans. 1908–9, 63, note.

page 141 note 2 Shown on Morant's plan in his Hist, of Colch.

page 141 note 3 One was destroyed in what is now the Castle Park about 50 year ago, and another formerly existed on the east wall north of the gateway. E. A. S. T. (o.s) i.

page 141 note 4 E.A.S.T. (n.s.) xv. The block of the plan has been lent by the Essex Archaeological Society, and the photograph (plate ix, no. 2) has been kindly provided by Mr. Francis W. Reader.

page 143 note 1 See Bonner Jahrbücher, xviii, 297; and E.A.S.T. (n.s.), xv.

page 143 note 2 Bonner Jahrbücher, xviii, 339.

page 143 note 3 The wall denoted as ‘3rd period’ on the plan is a rough barricade built over the ruined gate; at least part of it is probably post-Roman. In the elevation (fig. 14) it is shown in black.

page 144 note 1 The early use of brick bonding courses is also suggested by Haverfield in this Journal, i, 158.

page 144 note 2 See Schedule, nos. 36 and 45, and cf. Laver, H., Arch. Journ. lxiv, 216.

page 145 note 1 Colchester Castle (1853) 10, and Appendix, 21.

page 145 note 2 E.A.S.T. (n.s.) ix,|123.

page 146 note 1 Morant, , History of Colchester, i, 7; Round, Colchester Castle, pp. 97, 128.

page 147 note 1 Dio Cass. lxix, 4.

page 147 note 2 Arch. Journ. lxiv (1907), 188; also MSS. now in possession of the Colchester Corporation.

page 147 note 3 Morant, , Colchester, i, 8.

page 147 note 4 Fig. 16 is adapted from C. Promis, Antichità di Aosta, pl. viii.

page 148 note 1 Dissertazioni della Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia (ser. ii), x, part ii (1912), fig. 61; and André, , Mélanges (1891), xi, pl. viii.

page 148 note 2 Véran, , Bulletin de la societé des amis de vieil Arles, no. 4, Oct. 1908.

page 151 note 1 E.A.S.T. (o.s.), i, p. 53.

page 151 note 2 E.A.S.T. (n.s.), xiii, 107. The evidence, though not doubted by the observer, was not perhaps beyond dispute.

page 152 note 1 E.A.S.T. (n.s.) xiv, 203. Dr. Horace Round, in citing the open field system here as evidence of the complete obliteration of Roman landmarks after the evacuation, was under-estimating the antiquity of the road upon which the system hinged.

page 152 note 2 Roman foundations were found close to the town wall in Crouch Street during 1913 (E.A.S.T. (n.s.) xiii, 107), but the extreme depth of the soil and débris here suggest the former existence of a ditch, The former ‘Gutter Lane,’ east of Crouch Street doubtless represented a ditch here at some period.

page 153 note 1 E.A.S.T. (n.s.) ii, 189; iii, 97.

page 153 note 2 Wire's Diary; and Gent. Mag. 1843.

page 153 note 3 Wire's Diary, 25th March, 1845.

page 155 note 1 The present tower incorporates work of two pre-Conquest dates.

page 155 note 2 A third church, St. Runwalds, formerly stood in the High Street in exact alignment with those mentioned. Its site is indicated by an asterisk on the plan, fig. 17.

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The Journal of Roman Studies
  • ISSN: 0075-4358
  • EISSN: 1753-528X
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