It is rare to find the remains of the above-ground parts of Roman buildings in Colchester. Generally only the foundations of buildings survive and, even then, these more often than not have been partly or wholly dug up in the past to rob out the building materials which they contain. Fortunately, things are different at 97 High Street because, not only are there parts of a collapsed Roman building there, but the original structure just happens to have been something extra special – an impressive arcade of monumental proportions.
Monumental Roman arcade found in Britain The arcade is unique in size, built in monumental proportions [Credit: The Colchester Archaeological Trust]
The arcade was over 100 metres long and perhaps 8 metres or more in height. Its exact plan is yet to be recovered, but the arcade appears to have been made up of a square monumental gate flanked on each side by 12 or so arches to make about 24 in all. This impressive structure provided a grand entrance into the precinct of the Temple of Claudius. Both structures are unparalleled in Britain and are on a scale with buildings in Rome. A similar arcade is currently being investigated in Picardy in France, at the small town of Pont-Sainte-Maxence about 25 miles north of Paris. This arcade is of unprecedented scale in Gaul but it is significantly smaller than ours in Colchester.
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