Colchester is recorded as being England's oldest city with a recorded settlement going as far back as the 5th century BC, hundreds of years before the Romans arrived to make it their first capital of Britain named Camulodunum and was derived from the Celtic name, Camulos.
In 60AD, the flourishing Roman settlement was completely destroyed by the Iceni, under Queen Boudicca whom the Romans had provoked into revolt. Once Roman power had been re-established Colchester was rebuilt and but it never regained the position of capital. Today it is possible to see evidence of Roman life but the main feature is a Norman castle built by William the Conqueror atop the ruins of the Roman Temple of Claudius in 1076. Most of the castle building material came from the Roman ruins and original Roman bricks can still be seen within the castle's walls. The castle is now a museum of Roman and medieval history.
The Balkerne Gate at the top of Balkerne Hill is the only complete Roman archway left in Britain and was one of the four main town gateways. The Roman wall extends along most of the length of Balkerne Hill.
St Botolph's Priory, located just off the bottom of Queen Street, is the ruins of a 900-year-old monastery, destroyed by Henry VIII during the reformation. The Dutch quarter, found behind the town hall off the High Street, is a maze of tiny streets containing many original Tudor houses. The area is named after the influx of Flemish weavers who came to the town in the 16th Century, most of whom congregated there.
31 Jan 2009 - Colchester, EnglandI'd visited Colchester Castle a number of years ago but what is missing is a tour of the rest of this historical town. This visit combined a day trip with a quick recce to find traces of the old town which are easily missed yet have a tale behind them. I found enough to want to pen in a summer visit when following the history trail can be done far more comfortably. For now though, a few pictures of Colchester Castle will suffice.
Colchester - Colchester Castle Main Entrance
Colchester Castle is the largest keep ever built by the Normans and was constructed between 1076 and 1125, with extensive re-use of brick and tile from the ruined Roman town. It is built on the foundations of the great Roman Temple of Claudius.
Colchester - Colchester Castle
The keep has been altered considerably over the centuries. The upper part was demolished in the 1690's. The ruin was adapted in the 18th century and a domed tower and tiled roof was added.