December 7 2013 Latest news:
By Ross Bentley
Saturday, February 23, 2013
ARCHAEOLOGISTS have hailed a host of historic discoveries found at a renovated town centre manor house.
The Stockwell, on the corner of East and West Stockwell Street, in Colchester, is due to open as a restaurant next month.
When the doors are opened it will complete the three-year dream of owner Robert Morgan to convert what was a dilapidated 14th Century ruin into a luxury dining venue.
But along the way the building has thrown up some incredible ancient finds, according to Adam Wrightman, a project officer at the Colchester Archaeological Trust, who worked on the site last year. They include the remains of a Roman road, a medieval well and 600 sheep leg bones.
“This was probably one of the most productive jobs I’ve been on,” Mr Wrightman said. “As we worked down layer by layer, we found something about the history of the plot at different points dating back up to 2,000 years.
“We dug down about a metre to find the Roman road, which has helped us understand better the road layout of Roman Colchester.
“The sheep bones are evidence the site was home to a tawyer (tanner) in the 17th or 18th Centuries, who worked with leather materials such as sheep and deer skins to make shoes. The bones were used to hang the skins up for oiling.”
Mr Morgan, 57, has found the archaeological side of the £1million renovation one of the most rewarding aspects of the project.
During work on the interior of the building, he has also unearthed some fascinating items such as a bowman’s thumb ring, a Roman key ring and a host of old coins.
He intends to display some of these items in a glass case in the eaterie.
He said: “It is like the building is giving something back because it had been neglected for so long. We ended up removing about three tonnes of dirt from the walls and found lots of things there.
“Archaeologists told us that previous inhabitants hadn’t thrown things away and instead they hid them in nooks and crannies in the building. Only last month when we were putting in lighting we found a 15th Century leather pouch in a hole in one of the beams.
“We hope by putting these artefacts on display, it will add to visitors’ appreciation of the building.”