The Roman Road from Colchester to Gosbecks

Margary Number: 320

Distance: 7.5 miles

Gosbecks lies to the south-west of Colchester is believed to the pre-Roman tribal capital of south eastern Britain. A feature is the number of defensive ditches or dykes - presumably against the Roman invasion. However, It continued to be important in Roman times with a temple and theatre of its own. It was connected into the Roman road system by Margary 320 but also had another (local) road in from Colchester - see map1.

Today Gosbecks Archaeological Park covers 65 hectares, and is mainly flat grassland and farmland. It has been described as one of Britain's premier Iron Age and Roman monuments and, with adjacent sites, was designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument in 1988.




Historic Counties: Essex

Current Counties: Essex

HER: Essex & Colchester



mini map

Lidar Image - Full Route

The Gosbecks Romano-British site was connected into the road system both to the south (Chelmsford and London) and Colchester. The sites of the Temple and Theatre are labeled.

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full route

Roman Roads around Colchester - Lidar Image

The location of the Gosbecks site is probably explained by this Lidar image. It is positioned centrally and on the high ground of an "island" bounded by the River Colne to the north and east plus the Roman River to the south. The only easy approach is from the west and this is where the famous defensive ditches were positioned.

For the Roman city, a location on the banks of the River Colne must have been more important..

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Lidar Image and Route Map 1

Our road today is initially marked by Maldon Road, B1022. There is also a second road to the site from Colchester.

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Gosbecks Site

The site predates Roman Colchester but clearly continued on into the Roman era with a Temple and Theatre. It would appear to have been bounded by two Roman forts - one on the west and one on the east. The westerly one is overlaid by the Roman road so perhaps the forts were short lived.

The inset plan is by Colchester Archaeological Trust (from CAT Report 127). It is derived from a magnetometry survey carried out by Dr Tim Dennis. If you visit the Archaeological Park, the sites of the Romano-British temple and Roman theatre marked on the grass with white lines.

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Lidar Image and Route Map 2

Having passed the Gosbecks site our road turns more westerly but is lost in the quarries. Evidence resumes at Roman River - an apt name if ever there was one.

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Lidar Image and Route Map 3

The last stretch follows Easthorpe Road before joining up with the main Colchester to Chelmsford Roman road.

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Last update: July 2020

© David Ratledge