new tourism campaign in Colchester: ‘If these walls could talk’

Today (28th July), an item was posted on the Colchester Gazette web-site titled ‘The true story of Colchester’s incredible Roman wall’ – at . This presents a brief history of the remarkable Roman town wall of Colchester and describes the programme of conservation of the town wall which Colchester Borough Council has been undertaking for the past few years.

On Monday (24th July), Colchester Borough Council also launched a new tourism campaign titled ‘If these walls could talk’. An item on the campaign was posted on the Colchester Gazette web-site on the 14th July – ‘Snap your selfie to help in Colchester’s tourism campaign If Our Walls Could Talk’ at . Visit Colchester will be promoting the heritage of Colchester for the next year with a series of initiatives inspired by the walls of Colchester, starting with a selfie competition for residents and visitors (read more about the campaign and the competition in an extract from the Colchester Borough Council media release below ***).

The Trust is hoping to follow the campaign through the year with items on our web-site, starting with our own top ten! There are many great walls in Colchester and we have our own stories to tell about them! The Trust’s suggested top ten walls in Colchester include the excavated block of very early Roman wall (in Britain) from the legionary fortress here and, also, the foundations of part of the Roman circus which are exposed here at the Roman circus visitor centre…

1  Yes, it has to be the remarkable Roman town wall… This was built in about AD 65-80 and it is the earliest defensive town wall in Britain.
2  The stumps of wall of the Roman church beside the Maldon Road roundabout.
3  The walls of the Norman castle keep – Colchester Castle – which were built with re-used Roman buildings materials. The keep was built from about AD 1070.
4  The surviving low remains of walls of a Roman house in Castle Park.
5  The surviving length of the precinct wall of St John’s abbey, along the Mersea Road.
6  The surviving lengths of the great perimeter walls of the old Colchester garrison. These were built at different times from 1862. (The Trust’s HQ and the Roman circus visitor centre are housed in a former military building of the Artillery Barracks in the old garrison.) You can see lengths of garrison wall along Butt Road and along Artillery Folley.
7  The length of Roman wall in Colchester Castle Park which formed part of a building which defined the north side of the precinct of the monumental Temple of Claudius. The temple stood in a precinct which was defined by walls and buildings on three sides and a monumental arcade on the fourth side (see no 8 below). This was the only known temple dedicated to the imperial cult in Britain.
8  The lengths of low wall which were added between the piers of the monumental Roman arcade, part of the foundations of which we investigated at Claudius Gateway in the High Street, including the remains of four of these low walls. These foundations and low walls are now exposed and displayed in the Claudius Gateway coffee house and heritage centre. We think that this was the largest monumental arcade of its kind in the north-western Roman empire.
9   The tower of Holy Trinity church in Trinity Street, which was built in about AD 1000.
10  The block of very early Roman wall from the legionary fortress at Colchester, which we excavated on the Culver Street site (now the Culver Square shopping precinct) in 1982. This block is now on display here at the Roman circus visitor centre. Trust director Philip thinks that it may be the oldest visible fragment of Roman wall in Britain.

Although they are not properly walls, we also have to add the wall foundations of part of the Roman circus which we have exposed and which are on display here at the Roman circus visitor centre…

Which walls of Colchester would you choose?


*** The Colchester Borough Council media release – ‘Year-long plan to boost Colchester tourism set to continue’ – was posted online on the 13th July: ‘… The new campaign for 2017-2018, launching on the 24 July, entitled If Our Walls Could Talk, shines a spotlight on Colchester’s rich social and economic history. Using the building blocks of the town, its walls, Colchester’s history will be highlighted and shared.
What could the walls of the largest surviving Norman keep in Europe tell us?
What bloodshed have the walls of the Old Siege House seen or, indeed, how many marriage proposals have restaurants in the Borough heard?
The campaign will feature stripped-back visuals focusing on the true beauty and history of the town, and take the public through a journey of 2000 years of history right up to the modern day.
[] Throughout the campaign Visit Colchester will be running various promotions and competitions for the public to get involved with – starting with a selfie competition on its Instagram account over the summer holidays. To take part, Visit Colchester is asking the public to get out and about and snap selfies in front of walls of note in the Borough. Creativity and personal stories are welcomed. Let Visit Colchester know about those landmark moments in individuals’ lives and help share the wonderful history the Borough holds, and be proud of Britain’s oldest recorded town. The prize draw for the selfie competition includes a fabulous afternoon tea at the Tiptree tea room at the Minories, Peter Pan tickets at the Mercury Theatre and a guided tour of Colchester’s famous walls …’ – at .

The images show some selfies taken by Trust archaeologists with their favourite walls in Colchester! – a photo. of Trust archaeologist Don Shimmin with one of the low walls of the monumental arcade in December 2015, and the block of Roman legionary wall and the exposed foundations of part of the Roman circus here at the Roman circus visitor centre. [Images to follow.]