Colchester is Britain’s first recorded town but it’s a dubious honour because it began life as Britain’s first city.
Following the Roman conquest of Britain in AD43, the large legionary fortress of Camulodunum that had been established in this corner of what is now Essex was turned from a military base into a ‘colonia’. The Roman word was a specific term for a planned town inhabited by military veterans. The idea was that the barracks would be converted into houses in order to establish a Roman settlement within the conquered area. It was called Colonia Victricensis – The City of Victory; and, until Boudica’s rebellion in AD61, was the capital of the province of Britannia. As such, it was home to a great Temple to the Divine Claudius.
Colchester Castle is built on same site as the temple and the original foundations, with their massive vaults, have since been uncovered and can be viewed today on a castle tour. Other examples of Roman craftsmanship at the castle include a figurine of the god Mercury, the ‘Colchester Vase’ depicting named gladiators in action and two fine tombstones of a Roman centurion and a Thracian cavalry soldier.
Tel: 01206 282 920. www.visitcolchester.com