Twelve years ago this month the world of archaeology was astonished with arguably the most important Roman discovery in our nation’s history – that of the only Roman chariot racing circus in this country.

It attracted national and international interest.

In my opinion it could become Colchester’s biggest single tourist attraction.

That has yet to happen.

There is a saying: “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.

That applies, it seems, when it comes to the circus and promoting this discovery for residents and tourists.

None of the information display panels in the town centre even mention the circus, and the map on the panels likewise gives no indication this international tourist site is just a few minutes walk away.

This is not a criticism of the Colchester Archaeological Trust, which made the fantastic discovery in November 2004 and whose director, the amazing Phillip Crummy, broke the news the following month.

The trust does not have the funds to promote tourism. That is not their role.

But there are public bodies who promote and fund tourism attractions of merit, which one would think Colchester’s Roman circus clearly ticks all the boxes required.

No-one had any hint the Romans built a circus in Britain. It is unique. But in Colchester it remains very low-key when it comes to tourism.

I often think how York or Chester would have reacted if the circus had been found in either. Chester’s discovery of an amphitheatre is less spectacular than Colchester’s circus – yet it has received funding and is managed by English Heritage.

In 2004 – the same year as Colchester Archaeological Trust discovered the Roman circus in the grounds of the former Victorian Garrison – the Chester Amphitheatre Project was launched, jointly owned, funded and supported by Chester City Council and English Heritage.Today I can bring encouraging news of a significant step forward in attracting people to visit the circus.

As one of my photographs illustrating this article confirms, the eastern end of the stadium (where up to 8,000 people watched chariot racing in an all-seat stadium some 1,800 years ago) has been paved to the north of Napier Road.

In the new year, on a date to be announced, it will be open to the public.

This has been made possible thanks to a partnership between housing developers Taylor Wimpey, who have converted the nearby former Victorian garrison buildings into dwellings, and Colchester Council planners.

The line of the circus can be clearly seen where it approaches and then crosses the pavement in Napier Road, and then to the other side of the road where it is marked with different surface material in the car park.

It is a pity Essex County Highways refuses to allow the road surface to be marked showing the line of the circus, which I suggest could be easily achieved with tarmac coloured “Roman purple”.

This paved walkway is a welcome step forward , and, looking ahead, a second piece of good news: We now have the potential of the biggest boost yet for the circus becoming a destination for tourists to Britain’s first city and first capital of Roman Britain.

Last month’s announcement by the Ministry of Defence regarding the disposal of various sites across the UK, included moving the Army’s vehicle maintenance workshops (which are off Flagstaff Road) to within Merville Barracks, to the south of Abbey Field. This will release a significant site through which a large section of the northern side of the circus awaits excavation by archaeologists.

The site is next to Roman Circus House. There is thus a great opportunity to secure for posterity perhaps 200 yards or so of the northern side of the circus from the starting gates going eastwards to the junction of Flagstaff Road and Napier Road.

Currently it is difficult to locate Roman Circus House.

The access to Butt Road car park mentions this on the road name as being the route to take by car, and there is a footpath-style finger post off Circular Road for pedestrians.

The trust has put signs up, but there are no brown tourism signs which are necessary.

Roman Circus House, a former Army building, opened three years ago as the home for Colchester Archaeological Trust.

A sign on the gates states its visitor centre and cafe are closed until April next year.

The greatest Roman archaeological discovery in Britain deserves to be a national tourist destination.

In terms of Roman history, Colchester out-scores Chester, York and every other Roman location in the country.