Not all Roman towns were on the scale of Colchester (Camulodunum) or Chelmsford (Caesaromagus). As opportunities for trade and occupational specialisation in communities centred on cross roads and river crossings grew, so small hamlets grew into towns. Roman forts also often provided a focus for settlement.
Large scale excavation has taken place within one of the smaller towns of Roman Essex, at Elms Farm near Maldon, at the head of the Blackwater Estuary. Investigations at this site have revealed a well ordered layout with a main road entering the settlement from the north. This road led to a Temple complex, which lay at the centre of the settlement. The temple precinct was bounded by roads lined with fences and ditches on three sides; however, the main frontage was defined by a more imposing fašade built on stone foundations. Inside the precinct a combination of large circular and rectangular buildings were used to create an impressive monumental construction. Outside this Temple area lay a gravel surfaced market place, roads and rectangular timber framed buildings.
Finds from the site indicate an agricultural economy, with evidence of a variety of craft production including the working of leather, bone, wood and metal. In addition a number of kilns indicate small scale pottery production.