Ancient Buildings Unearthed in Roman Colchester

The tessellated flooring found at the site suggests the occupants were "well off", say archaeologists

WED 30 JAN 2019 01:30 AM.

Ancient Buildings Unearthed in Roman Colchester:

The floors of the Roman houses are thought to be 2nd or 3rd Century AD

Archaeologists have unearthed the mosaic like floors of a number of Roman homes next to a theatre complex.

The discovery were part of an excavation next to the Mercury Theatre in Colchester, Essex.

As well as the Roman floors and home foundations, archaeologists have also discovered a number of items including a bone dice and a candle holder.

Archaeologist Philip Crummy said: “To find anything well preserved in Colchester is exciting.”

The dig is part of an £8.9m extension and refurbishment of the Mercury Theatre, which sits next to the towns Roman wall.

“This was clearly a fairly well off part of Roman Colchester,” said Mr Crummy.

“In Colchester of the second Century, the homes often had tessellated or mosaic floors, under floor heating, piped water and painted walls just like some of the houses you would find in the Mediterranean.

“What we see here ranks near the middle standard of home. We have seen some lovely fragments of painted wall plaster.

“Its been very interesting and rewarding to be given the chance to investigate this.”

The Mercury extension will be built on piles which will be installed away from the most significant of the Roman flooring find.

“The floors we are looking at are typically 2nd and 3rd century,” said Mr Crummy.

“What we can tell from what is on top of the floors is when it stopped being used and we can see from the remains lying on the floors there that these buildings were left derelict to stand.”

Finds include an iron object about 15’in (38cm) in length and a coin dating to about AD360.

It is thought to have been some kind of fitting and has been carefully packaged up and will be examined to see if there is some kind of mechanism.

“We have found a tiny little dice as small as a finger nail,” said Mr Crummy, “which suggests people were spending happy hours playing dice.

As well as the Roman floors and home foundations, archaeologists also found a small bone dice
As well as the Roman floors and home foundations, archaeologists also found a small bone dice

“There is also a good looking counter, like a piece of tile which has been shaped, which we assume was used in games.”

The theatre’s regeneration project has been awarded funding worth £7m from Arts Council England, Colchester Council and Essex County Council but has been seeking the remaining £1.9m needed from public donations.

‘Britain’s oldest Town

Signs on main roads into Colchester proclaim it to be Britains most oldest town

It was called Camulodunum, which is a Romanisation of its Iron Age name: the Fortress (-dunum) of Camulos, God of War

Camulodunum was a hugely vital site in pre-Roman times. It was most likely the royal stronghold of the Trinovantes, on whose behalf Julius Caesar invaded in 55 and 54 BC.

Colchester became Britain’s 1st ever cityIn 60 or 61 AD, while the Roman governor Gaius Suetonius Paullinus was leading a campaign in North Wales, Boudiccas Iceni warriors rebelled, defeating the Roman Ninth Legion and destroying the capital of Roman Britain, Colchester

P. Natasha Covers Classical Archaeology news and has been with Histecho since 2017. She has a Master's degree in MA Archaeology from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting program. A California native, she also holds a Bachelor of science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.