The Roman Emperor Claudius made Colchester (then known as Camulodunum) the rst capital of Roman Britain in AD 49. It was granted the status of a Roman colonia: a settlement for Roman veterans, and a beacon of Roman values and way of life. Camulodunum boasted a theatre and a temple to Claudius, but it wasn’t particularly well defended and its glory days ended during Boudica’s Revolt of AD 60, when it was a natural target for the rebellious Queen of the Iceni. The city was ransacked and its citizens slaughtered.
The town was rebuilt, this time incorporating thick defensive walls, many sections of which are still standing. Of particular note is Balkerne Gate, the original main entrance to the town. Discover more of the town’s ancient past at the Colchester Castle Museum, whose star exhibits include a hoard of Roman treasure, ancient statues and mosaics. Nearby, the Roman Circus Visitor Centre is home to the remains of a Britain’s only known chariot-racing track, a monumental structure that seated up to 8,000 spectators. www.visitcolchester.com