IT is well documented Colchester was the capital of Roman Britain when the empire seized control some 2,000 years ago.

The town was extremely important in Roman Britain and many of its attributes have survived to the present day, with new finds still being discovered.

Roman Colchester was home to three theatres and hosted the only Roman chariot-racing circus on the island.

Here we have compiled a round-up of many of the interesting discoveries archaeologists have made in Colchester after yet more artefacts were found last week.

Burials, buildings and tools


A series of exciting Roman finds, including part of a chariot race day cup, were made during archaeological excavations of the former Essex County Hospital site last week.

Digs at the site in Lexden Road, Colchester, uncovered the ancient remains of Roman buildings and a possible tower, the Gazette revealed.

The excavations found a range of interesting artefacts including up to 18 Roman brick and tile built ovens and more than 50 Roman burials.

A large quantity of items including pottery and glass vessels, jewellery and tools made from metals and animal bone were also dug up.

And one of the most exciting discoveries was a fragment of a cup decorated with the image of a racing chariot, which was likely to be a souvenir from a race day at Colchester’s Roman Circus, the only chariot racing arena in the country.

You can read more here 

Roman road


A section of Roman road was also uncovered during an archaeological dig at the former Essex County Hospital site in Colchester.

Revealed exclusively by the Gazette, a spokesman for Essex Housing confirmed the archaeological remains of part of a Roman road had been discovered during excavations at the former hospital site.

He added: “Essex Housing is working with experts from the Colchester Archaeological Trust to record the find in detail and a soft layer is set to be installed above the Roman road’s surface in order to preserve it.”

You can read more here

Roman Circus

Gazette: Model - how the Roman Circus would have looked

The first evidence of Colchester’s Roman Circus was found near Abbey Fields by Colchester Archaeological Trust in May 2000 although, at the time, it was only identified as part of a Roman foundation.

The trust then found further evidence over the next few years and, in November 2004, tentatively identified the remains as a circus.

The structure was confirmed as a circus in September 2005 and the site was given Scheduled Ancient Monument status in November 2009.

It is the only known example found to this day in Britain.

You can read more about the site here

Ancient drainage system


An ancient Roman drainage system has been explored by history enthusiasts who are hoping to open it up to the public.

The 2,000-year-old drain runs from Colchester High Street through to Castle Park and continues past the historic Duncan’s Gate landmark in the upper section of the park.

History experts at Colchester Museums have been aware of the system running below residents’ feet for years, but were finally given access by the park’s management team to head down into the eerie tunnels.

Alongside Colchester Council, they are now hoping to making the drains viewable by residents and the Duncan’s Gate site be given some TLC to make it attractive to visitors.

You can read more here

Other Roman discoveries in the town

Colchester is rich in Roman artefacts including the foundations of a Roman theatre found 40 years ago in Maidenburgh Street.

Following this, the development of homes was halted and new plans saw a section of the theatre made visible for people to view through windows.

The Berryfield Mosaic, which dates back to AD150, was also relaid inside the Firstsite gallery.

It was unearthed in 1923 and was originally part of the dining room floor in a Roman town house where the gallery now stands.

Furthermore, Colchester is surrounded by Roman walls. They can be spotted up close at Balkerne Gate and at Duncan’s Gate, in Upper Castle Park.