Hundeds of guests filled Colchester Castle for a preview of the £4.2million renovations which will allow visitors to explore the history of the keep using tablet computers.

About 300 people, including councillors and local businessmen, were invited to Monday night’s event which featured demonstrations of the tablets, which visitors can use to compare the castle as it is now to how it would have been.

They can also point the tablet, which will visitors £1 to hire, at certain exhibitions to read more about them and watch how they have changed through ages to appear as they do in present day.

But the tablets are just one of the many ways modern day technology will be used to explore the Norman keep, which will also have virtual chariot racing, audio and video character stories and huge film projections directly onto the castle wall.

There will also be hands on exhibitions for children, such as building an archway and dressing up in period clothes.

Many of the discoveries made in and around Colchester, including everything from cremated bones to a handheld mirror, will also be featured prominently in the museum.

Speaking at the event, councillor Tim Young, cabinet member for culture, said: “I hope you will agree it looks amazing.

“We have one of the most historically important buildings in Britain, and collections of national and international importance.

“I hope you will agree that we have got something very special to share here.”

He thanked museum staff for all their hard work and spoke of his hopes of how the renovations will be boost the town’s tourism industry as a whole.

Colchester Mayor Colin Sykes will officially reopen the castle on May 2.