Smiths, Soldiers, and Princes of pre-Roman Essex
with Howard Brooks, (Colchester Archaeological Trust)
at Sutton Hoo, Saturday, 30th January, 2016

Essex has never featured as strongly in the archaeological consciousness (or literature) as it deserves, but its archaeological remains (especially in later prehistory and the Roman period) are of exceptional interest. We shall explore the landscape of Essex from the Neolithic to the eve of the Roman invasion, looking at the causewayed enclosures, the defended homes of Bronze Age metal traders, the Iron Age hillforts, and the Iron Age village sites (some of which may have been defended against the invasion of Julius Caesar in 55BC).  After Caesar’s time, we will examine the evidence from recent excavations in the ‘proto-town’ or oppidum of Camulodunum (the home of Cunobelin and the target of the Roman invasion of AD 43), and the extraordinary élite burials of princes (or druids?) at Stanway.

Provisional Programme

09.50 – 10.15:          Coffee on arrival

10.15 – 11.15:          Palaeolithic to Neolithic: Clacton man to cursuses and causewayed camps.

11.15 – 11.40:          Coffee break

11.40 – 12.40:          Bronze and Iron Ages: metalwork trade, burials, hillforts and enclosures.

12.40 – 14.00:          Lunch break

14.00 – 14.50:          Late Iron Age Oppida: what and where is Camulodunum?

14.50 – 15.10:         Tea break

15.10 – 16.00:          Essex Princes and Warrior Burials.

c.16.00:                   Thanks and Close

About Howard Brooks

Howard’s first archaeological dig was in a Derbyshire cave in 1967. He graduated in archaeology from Cardiff University in 1975, became a Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists in 1984, and is now Deputy Director at Colchester Archaeological Trust. He has excavated archaeological sites dating from the Bronze Age to the medieval period, a highlight being the Stansted Airport archaeological project (1985-1991) where discoveries included an Iron Age village and rich Roman burials. Howard has a particular interest in landscape archaeology, has published widely, and has taught evening classes in archaeology for the Universities of Essex, Cambridge, and East Anglia. He also helps local amateur groups to carry out fieldwork and publish their results. He was elected as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (FSA) in 2009.


When asked what was best about the previous Howard Brooks Study Day participants said:

  • High quality visual presentation
  • Finding out things I did not know. New knowledge
  • Felt the level was just right.  Really enjoyed all the sessions.  Really enjoyed the use of images (maps, diagrams, photos etc) in the talks throughout the day
  • The way that the context was explained
  • New ideas.  Very enjoyable as always
  • Cross-over and links between the 2 principal themes of the day – an interesting format
  • All very interesting and informative.  As a Colchester inhabitant I was particularly interested in that section
  • As always filled in gaps in my knowledge
  • Clarity of presentation, both verbal and use of projections
  • Experts & relevant new knowledge
  • Two excellent and complementary approaches to a fascinating topic.  Masses of well-presented evidence & food for thought
  • One of the best Study days – totally enjoyable, many thanks

Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading

Essex lacks an equivalent of the Suffolk or Norfolk Historical Atlas. However, there are good general summaries of Essex archaeology resulting from conferences in Clacton 1978, Writtle 1993, and Chelmsford 2008. These are published as:

Buckley, David (ed), 1980, Archaeology in Essex to AD 1500. Council for British Archaeology Research Report 34.[1]

Bedwin, Owen (ed), 1996, The Archaeology of Essex: Proceedings of the Writtle conference. (Essex County Council Planning Department, Chelmsford).

Brown, N, Medlycott, M, & Bedwin, O., 2012, ‘The archaeology of Essex: Proceedings of the Chelmsford Conference’. Essex Archaeology & History, Fourth Series, Volume 3, 1-166.

Other publications on Essex prehistory include

Crummy, P., Benfield, S., Crummy, N., Rigby, V. & Shimmin, D. 2007 Stanway: an élite burial site at Camulodunum. Britannia Monograph Series, 24. the Stanway princely burial site
Crummy, Philip 1997 City of Victory: the story of Colchester, Roman Britain’s first town. (Colchester Archaeological Trust) the best summary of late Iron Age Colchester
Drury, P.J. 1978 Excavations at Little Waltham 1971-72, CBA Research Report 27.[2] classic Iron Age village in Essex
Fawn, A.J., Evans, K.A., McMaster, I., & Davies, G.M.R. 1990 The Red Hills of Essex: salt-making in antiquity.   Colchester Archaeological Group red hills and salt making
Havis, R. & Brooks, H. 2004 Excavations at Stansted Airport 1986-91. East Anglian   Archaeology 107 Airport Catering Site and others
Hawkes C.F.C. & Crummy P. J. 1995 Camulodunum 2 (Colchester Archaeological Report No.11) recent work on the oppidum
Hawkes, C.F.C. & Hull M.R., 1947 Camulodunum: first report on the excavations at Colchester 1930-39 Report of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London XIV. The seminal publication of the oppidum of Camulodunum
Kemble, James 2001 Prehistoric and Roman Essex (Tempus) the only recent summary
Nigel Brown 1999 The Archaeology of Ardleigh, Essex: excavations 1955-80. EAA 90. Important Bronze Age urnfield cemetery
Sealey, Paul 2007 A Late Iron Age Warrior Burial from Kelvedon, Essex. EAA 118  

[1] This is now available, as are all old CBA Research Reports, on the ADS website

[2] Also now available on ADS website