NEW features have been installed for visitors to the site of the country’s only known chariot racing track as bosses prepare to reopen for the summer season.

Staff at the Roman Circus Centre off in Roman Circus Walk, off Butt Road, Colchester, have been working to improve the site.

The improvements include figures on a zig-zag profile which shows the makeup of the circus, while a replica mosaic which was put together eight years ago is being restored and is due to be mounted on a wall by the end of the summer.

Philip Crummy, director of the Colchester Archaeological Trust, which runs the centre, said said: “The new figures really do look rather nice and it helps to give a really good feel of how the arena was and we think the visitors will enjoy it.

“We are also building a wall which we hope will be completed by the end of the summer to mount our modern Roman mosaic on.”

Work on the mosaic started in 2005 and 1,500 people, mainly students at Philip Morant School in Colchester, created it.

However, restoration work was needed and members of the North East Essex Decorative and Fine Arts Society, led by Peter Herring, who masterminded the original mosaic, have come to the rescue.

Mr Crummy said: “They have been working on the project since last year and expect to finish by early this summer. Since the mosaic is so large, it has had to be been restored as six separate pieces.

“When the work is finished, the mosaic jigsaw will be reassembled on the new wall and the joins finished off with more mosaic tiles so that the whole thing will end up fully restored.”

“The two new features will definitely improve the circus.”

The centre, gardens and tea room will be open between Tuesdays and Saturdays from 11am until 4pm.

Special tours are also being held during the Easter weekend at noon on Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Monday costing £2 per person.

They will be led by experts and will take visitors to the edge of the circus boundaries.

Mr Crummy said: “Taylor Wimpey has done some good work down in the Flagstaff area.

“It really helps to show how vast the circus was.”

The circus was about 450 metres in length and had a seating capacity for an estimated 15,000 spectators.

It was discovered in 2004 by the trust which was excavating the former Garrison site which was being developed for housing. It is now a scheduled monument.