the Ermine Street Guard conquer Colchester Roman circus

On Saturday and Sunday (10th-11th June), the Friends of the Colchester Archaeological Trust (FCAT) hosted a weekend presenting the Ermine Street Guard here at the Colchester Roman circus visitor centre. The Ermine Street Guard re-enact a unit of the Roman army which served in Britannia.

The Guard marched in good order from Colchester Town Hall to the Roman circus visitor centre on Saturday morning with a number of ‘camp followers’. Here they performed battlefield drills and demonstrated the use of their weapons, including a ballista which fired water melons and root vegetables! The Guard also met Boudica, queen of the Iceni tribe, who kindly attended the event. Their meeting was surprisingly relaxed, considering that, during the Boudican revolt in AD 60, Boudica’s tribesmen massacred elements of a Roman army unit at Roman Colchester.

Visitors were able to look round the Guard’s camp and talk to them about the life of a Roman soldier. Visitors could also chat to Trust archaeologists and handle archaeological finds, and play the board-game Aquila with Alex. Our children’s tent included a sand-pit dig, a quiz and craft activities. We provided guided tours of the Roman circus visitor centre and site, as well as a visit to our current archaeological site just round the corner from the circus visitor centre. Our tea room was very popular!

The event was well attended on both days and our visitors all seemed to enjoy themselves. We enjoyed it! Photo.s and video clips were posted on social media during the event by visitors, by Visit Colchester and by the Trust.

Many thanks to the Ermine Street Guard, FCAT, Trust staff and volunteers, and to all our great visitors.

The images show the Guard approaching the Roman circus visitor centre by the former Le Cateau Road; Boudica following the Guard in a chariot drawn by two Trust archaeologists (Elliott and Adam); and the Guard drawn up in front of the Roman circus visitor centre with Boudica…  [More images to follow.]