In recent decades, archaeologists in regions such as Germany, Italy, and France have developed an increasingly robust approach to the identification of early churches and thus dismissed a number of formerly misidentified examples in the process. In Britain, however, various supposed "churches" discovered in the twentieth century continue to be referred to as such despite a lack of strong evidence to substantiate this. One such example is a structure found at Butt Road, Colchester. In this article, the issues surrounding the interpretation of this building as a church are revisited and enhanced, while it is illustrated why other interpretations, such as a "pagan funerary banqueting hall," are also unlikely. Following this, the possibility that the building served as a mithraeum is put forward, for mithraea offer stronger parallels that account for the building's size and structure, as well as its faunal and small-find assemblages. As such, it will highlight the need to revisit other previously identified "churches" from Roman Britain and to apply a more rigorous analysis, which may yield alternative conclusions.


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pp. 339-374
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