Roman Colchester
with Howard Brooks BA (Hons) FSA MCIfA (Colchester Archaeological Trust)
at Sutton Hoo on Saturday, 28th January, 2017


Colchester has an embarrassment of remaining Roman riches, as well as a large corpus of published large-scale excavations, from which we shall summarise the main academic themes and most interesting discoveries. Colchester has much to offer (and not necessarily the mainstream views) on the topics of the Roman invasion and conquest, first-century fortresses, and later Roman towns. It is particularly well known for its easily-identified ‘Boudiccan’ horizon – the tell-tale signs of the rebellion of CE 60/61 – from which there has recently been a spectacular discovery – the Fenwick Treasure.   We will look at this and the excavated remains of houses, temples, and cemeteries, including the soon-to-be-displayed remains of the precinct wall of the Temple of Claudius.

Provisional Programme

09.50 – 10.15:                Coffee on arrival

10.15 – 11.15:                The antiquarian search for Colchester – a ‘virtual’ guided tour around the town and its surviving Roman remains. Why is Colchester at Camulodunum?

11.15 – 11.40:                Coffee break

11.40 – 12.40:                Excavations inside the walls – how the Roman fortress, houses, temples, and theatre were revealed.

12.40 – 14.00:                Lunch break

14.00 – 14.50:                 Excavations outside the town walls – the suburbs, temples, cemeteries, drains and roads.

14.50 – 15.10:                Tea break

15.10 – 16.00:                Sugar and spice – Britain’s only Roman Circus, the Fenwick Treasure, and the contents of a Roman spice shop.

c.16.00:                            Thanks and Close

About Howard Brooks

Apart from four years in Dubai breeding birds, Howard has always worked in archaeology. His first ‘dig’ was in a Derbyshire cave in 1967. He graduated in archaeology from Cardiff University in 1975, became a Member of the (now Chartered) Institute for Archaeologists in 1984, and is now Deputy Director at Colchester Archaeological Trust. In Colchester, he has worked on or directed the excavation of urban sites in and around the Roman and medieval town. Outside Colchester, he has excavated sites dating from the Bronze Age to the medieval period, a highlight being the Stansted Airport archaeological project (1985-1991).  Howard has a particular interest in landscape archaeology, and has taught evening classes in archaeology for the Universities of Essex, 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.


At a previous Study Day by Howard, when asked ‘What was best about the day?‘ people said:

  • Most illuminating about Roman finds & Colchester early history
  • Fascinating content & new information
  • New ideas about Casssivellaunus stronghold & Romans influence prior to 43AD & update on Roman Circus
  • Always a nice atmosphere & consistently high standard of presentation
  • First hand account of excavations
  •  Entirely fresh info
  • Excellent speaker & content
  • In depth look at Roman Colch & intro to debate re Roman invasion
  • Speaker attained the right level & his hands-on approach

Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading

The best general introduction to Colchester archaeology is Philip Crummy’s  City of Victory: the story of Colchester – Britain’s first Roman town (Colchester Archaeological Trust 1997)

Annual summaries of excavations in and around Colchester are to be found in The Colchester Archaeologist. This can be purchased as hard copy, or (up to 2007) viewed online at .

The major excavations in and around the town are published in the Colchester Archaeological Reports series. These can be purchased as hard copy, or (except for CAR 6) viewed online at

The classic publications on pre-Roman and Roman Colchester are:

Hawkes CFC and Hull MR, 1947, Camulodunum: first report on the excavations at Colchester 1930-39 Report of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London XIV.

Hull, M R, 1958, Roman Colchester, Report of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London Report number XX.

Hull, MR, 1963, The Roman potters kilns of Colchester. Report of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London Report number XXI.