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COMBRETOVIUM ROMAN SETTLEMENT

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  COMBRETOVIVM
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The site is a 60 hectare open settlement, with occupation from the late Iron Age and Claudian periods through to the mid 4th century. Traces of a Roman road running to a ford on the river at Sharnford were identified. Numerous finds were made in the vicinity of the road, including 1st to 4th century coins, a bronze mirror, a cinerary urn, pottery, slag, building debris and a wall 30 yards long and 2 feet thick. There were also 1st century hut circles associated with drainage gullies and rubbish pits. This level was sealed by 2nd to 3rd century occupation debris, including footings of a rectangular timber building. To the south-west of this area a Roman Conquest-period enclosure ditch was excavated, while to the east there was a 1st century cremation cemetery. Two 2nd century pottery kilns, and a late 1st or 2nd century enclosure ditch with a gateway complex was uncovered. Rubbish pits and ditches were abundant and a timber-lined shaft 9.25 metres deep was also excavated, which contained pottery, a La Tene III brooch and a silver coin of the Iceni. In the absence of any sign of ritual, it was presumed to be a well. Although occupation of this marginal part of the settlement was clearly never substantial, the quantity of finds was taken by the excavators to indicate the importance of the main settlement which lies under pasture nearer the river. Extension northwards is shown by the discovery of ditches and finds in Pool Fields. Roman burials have also been discovered in fields near the Sheepwalk.

Two Roman forts are known. The larger encloses about 14.5 acres (5.8 hectares) and its defences include a triple ditch system. The smaller fort of 5.3 acres (2.1 hectares) lies within this and is surrounded by a set of four ditches. The Roman Road form Colchester to Caistor passes through both sites and its positioning suggests that the small fort was the earlier, replaced by the larger fort.

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