A new heritage interpretation panel has been unveiled at Berechurch Iron Age dyke within Colchester Training Area. Located just south of Berechurch Hall Road, the panel explains the significance of the bank and ditch earthwork, known as a dyke, which was designed to protect Camulodunum, Iron Age Colchester, against attack by hostile tribes.
Berechurch Dyke is one of a series of similar earthworks which were built in stages from the 1st century BC onwards, until the destruction of Camulodunum by Queen Boudicca of the Iceni in AD 60. It is one of the best surviving examples of Colchester’s dyke system.
Visitors to the site can walk along the military road, known locally as Ramparts Lane, which lies on top of the bank, and see on one side the remains of the ditch, which was once 2m deep. In all, a stretch of almost 2km can be walked from Berechurch Hall Road to the Roman River.
This is part of an ongoing project to improve the public’s access to the rich and diverse heritage of Colchester, by installing interpretation panels at key locations. To date, over 30 have been installed, including around the complete circuit of the Roman Wall, at Gosbecks Archaeological Park, St Botolph’s Priory, and the Roman Circus.
The panel at Berechurch Dyke was funded by the Conservation Stewardship Fund of the MOD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation and erected by the museum service of Colchester City Council.
Cllr Pam Cox, Portfolio Holder for Culture and Heritage, said: “It was exciting to be present at the unveiling of the latest addition to Colchester’s heritage interpretation panels, particularly in this year of celebration for city status. Our Roman Wall is well known but the Iron Age defence system that preceded it is less well known, even though many parts of it – like Berechurch Dyke – still survives. I’m keen to extend public access to these evocative sites.”
Guy Salkeld, Defence Infrastructure Organisation Archaeologist, said: “MOD land includes a great number of historic sites, and looking after our heritage is very important to us. It has been a great pleasure to contribute to the understanding of Berechurch Dyke and to be present for the unveiling of the interpretation panel. Given that the land is used for military training it’s particularly interesting to see the defensive earthwork techniques of the Iron Age.”
Pictured above, L-R: Cllr Pam Cox, Guy Salkeld and Peter Chamberlain of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, and Cllr Martyn Warnes.