‘So exciting’ – ‘wonderful’ – ‘brilliant’ – ‘fascinating’ – ‘good luck’…

The National Heritage Open Days 2012 were on the 8th and 9th September and, in Colchester, a large number of buildings were open to the public; either public buildings which were open with free entry for the weekend or buildings which are not usually open to the public. There were also some free cultural events around the town relating to selected buildings.
The Colchester Archaeological Trust (CAT) opened Roman Circus House, our new premises , to the public for the first time. Visitors could walk around the gardens of Roman Circus House and the former Sergeants’ Mess and view the positions of the starting-gates of the Roman circus with our replica racing chariot in position. A display was presented in the two front rooms on the ground floor of Roman Circus House, including actual archaeological finds and some of our video clips of live archaeology on a loop. CAT staff and volunteers were on hand to talk to visitors and explain the archaeological site, and to give guided tours of the first floor and the back rooms on the ground floor of the building. Visitors could also buy CAT publications and then sit and recover with a cup of tea and a biscuit…
CAT used the occasion to unveil our new building sign and flag – on the Saturday morning, we even had some soldiers from the Colchester Roman Society come and raise the flag for us, assisted by a Roman charioteer (Ben Holloway of CAT).
Both days were incredibly hot and sunny and, although Roman Circus House is outside the town centre (and not the easiest place to find, at the moment), we estimate that well over 250 people visited us over the open weekend. All the visitors were very friendly and interested, and quite a few left some really positive messages in our Visitors Book (see * above!).
We must thank the volunteers who, yet again, gave their time and energy to help CAT and support Roman Circus House and the site of the Roman circus. We would also like to thank all our visitors for coming to see us – it was great to see you! – and we look forward to seeing you all again in the future.