Roam and Romans in Colchester – Sunday 27th August

Text and pics contributed by Claire V.

A group of 15 joined Glen and Jim for the Roam and Romans event in Colchester.

Glen led a wonderful walk around some green spaces with great views over Colchester. In the morning we visited Hilly Fields Nature Reserve, Lexden Springs Nature Reserve, Lexdon Park, Bluebottle Grove Dyke (where chariots and men on horseback would have charged at speed). To be honest this was all new to me and we saw parts of Colchester I didn’t even know existed.

After lunch Jim took over with a guided walk around some of the centre of Colchester. Jim is such an excellent tour guide, so fascinating and engaging to listen to. We learnt all about the Trinovantes Tribe and their life in Colchester (Camulodunum – the capital of Roman Britain, forget little London). We saw this amazing area – the Roman Circus centre which was only discovered late in 2004 during the redevelopment of Colchester Garrison. According to the nearby sign this would have held something like 9,000 people. It would have been the largest Roman building in the country, measuring something like 475 metres long and 75 metres wide.

Amongst other interesting facts we discovered how grapes were brought to Britain by the Romans (no wine was on offer at this point of the tour although Jim did keep bringing lots of interesting items out of his bag including photos of Roman coins and an oyster shell).

Throughout the walk we saw lots of examples of Roman walls. We also stopped to admire Scheregate – Colchester’s only surviving medieval gate. Right next door was a barber, who might not have been too impressed if we’d all trooped in to see the Roman wall section inside. But plenty of Roman architecture could be found in St Johns Abbey Gatehouse and St. Botolph’s Priory.

Escaping the rain showers we went into First Site – Colchester Art/Cinema centre which also houses the Berryfield Mosaic.

Our last stop of the afternoon was the site of a Roman theatre. Jim had the key so we were able to take a closer look at the small section that has been uncovered. As we stood there it really made me wonder what else would be uncovered if money and resources were freely available.

But we had to move onto the pub – the Victoria Inn and a great way to end such a great day.

On behalf of everyone who attended this event I want to say thank you so much again to both Glen and Jim. Thank you both for all your hard work.