A GRANT of £82,500 will be used to shed light on the lives of Romans who travelled to Colchester during the invasion of Britain.

Colchester Museums has been awarded the designation development cash from Arts Council England.

It will see the museum team up with Reading University and Colchester Archaeological Trust to explore the town’s nationally important early Roman cremation burials.

Researchers will use science to identify the age, sex and skeletal pathologies from the cremated remains.

It is hoped this will give a better insight into the people – both indigenous and incoming individuals from throughout the Roman Empire.

They will also be able to identify the origins of the soldiers, bureaucrats and merchants who would have come to Colchester during the turbulent years of the Roman invasion of Britain.


The project - which will be known as Decoding the Dead - will help challenge what is already known and shed new light on the period of change.

Julie Young, Colchester Council’s culture boss, said: “We are delighted to have been given this amazing opportunity to work with Reading University on the Decoding the Dead project.

“This work will not only allow us to conduct fascinating cutting-edge research into our past, but also give us the opportunity to collaborate and explore the subject of death in our own society, something that we do not talk about enough.”

Professor Eckardt, from the university, added: “So far, isotope and artefact analysis have focused on the later Roman period, but at Colchester we have a chance to go back further in time.

“Using the latest science, we can learn much more about the people who settled and died in the first military base and town in Britain and change what we know about some of the earliest Roman settlers in Britain.”

The findings of the study will feature in displays at both Colchester’s Roman Circus Centre and Colchester Castle in early 2021.

There will also be new educational resources, highlighting the long-term history of migration in the UK.

Hedley Swain, of Arts Council England, said: “Colchester is synonymous with the Roman occupation and this project will use cutting-edge technology bring stories from the period to life for everyone to experience.”