The destruction of a “clearly high status” Iron Age village “may represent reprisals after the Boudiccan revolt”, an archaeologist has said.
More than 17 roundhouses were discovered in a defensive enclosure at Cressing, near Braintree in Essex.
The site was burned down and abandoned during the late First Century AD.
“The local Trinovantes tribe joined the AD61 rebellion and after Boudicca’s defeat we know the Romans punished everyone involved,” said Andy Greef.
The excavation by Oxford Archaeology East ahead of a housing development began during the first lockdown and lasted eight months.
The enclosure was “clearly an important place” with an “avenue-like entrance” and continued to expand after the Roman invasion in AD43, so archaeologists were surprised it was not resettled after its destruction.
Further evidence of the settlement’s abandonment was the complete lack of Roman burials in subsequent centuries, Mr Greef added.
Despite this, the site remained a centre of “votive offerings” – possibly linked to the cult of the Roman god Mercury – until the end of the Roman occupation in the Fourth Century AD.
Mr Greef said: “More than 100 brooches, 10 Iron Age coins, dozens of Roman coins, hairpins, beads, finger rings and a lovely copper alloy cockerel figurine were discovered.
“It could be there was a shrine on the site that continued to attract people and, as it’s very close to the Roman road Stane Street, it was easy to access.”
The dig also revealed “one of the most significant assemblages of late Iron Age pottery from Essex in recent years”.
Many months of analysis lie ahead, but once completed, it is hoped some of the finds will find homes in Essex museums.