Heritage Open Day at Colchester Roman Circus

Neil and Richard putting up signs


It’s Heritage Open Day this Saturday (12th) 10.00am to 4.00pm and we are trying hard to offer something a little bit different and new!

We are currently digging around the east end of the Roman circus (the only known Roman chariot-racing track in Britain). As part of what we are offering for the Heritage Open day, we are opening a bit of the site for visitors this coming Saturday (12th September).

There will be tours of the dig the circus from 10.00am to 4.00pm that day starting at the Roman Circus Centre. As part of the tour, visitors will be invited on the site to see what we have uncovered. We are digging on the site of the east end of the central barrier. (The central barrier is what the charioteers raced around seven times to complete their two and a half mile long race.) Preservation of the remains has proved to be poor in this part of the circus so please don’t expect to see too much of the circus. However the excavations have revealed some complicated remains for us to untangle including the base of the 12th-century stone boundary wall of St John’s Abbey. The developers (Taylor Wimpey) have kindly offered to fence off the site in a way which makes it safe for you visit.

With the kind permission of Taylor Wimpey, we’ve just erected a series of signs along the hoarding around part of their site. These are based on a digital reconstruction of the circus and give the viewer an idea of what the circus would have looked like from where they are standing. The signs will feature in the site tours.

Other events in the Roman Circus Centre that day include:
* Two guided walks (about 45 minutes each) around the surviving buildings of some of the Victorian and Edwardian buildings of Colchester Garrison led by Peter Hall (very knowledgeable and experienced guide) starting at 11.00am and 1.00pm.
* Guided tours (about 15 minutes) of Roman Circus House throughout the day. Roman Circus House was formerly a NAAFI.
* The Colchester archaeological Trust is based in the Roman Circus Centre. Archaeologists will be on hand to explain how they work and the sorts of material they typically find.
* The Young Archaeologists Club will be present to describe their activities and invite new members.
* Members of NADFAs will be there to explain how they are repairing our modern circus mosaic for permanent display.
The café will be open throughout the day.