A new heritage interpretation panel has been unveiled at the site of the Roman Circus in Colchester. Located at Nero Court, on Napier Road, the panel explains the significance of the only chariot racing track known from Roman Britain.
The Roman Circus was discovered in 2004 by the Colchester Archaeological Trust. It was built using a standard plan found throughout the Roman Empire. It was similar to a squashed modern athletics track, with two parallel straights and two curved ends where the chariots had to make a sharp 180-degree turn.
The new interpretation panel is located at the eastern end of the Circus where the foundations are marked out on the ground. From this location, it is also possible to see the position of the barrier which separated the two long straight sections of the track. The barrier’s position is shown by a stretch of medieval wall forming part of a Victorian building.
This is part of an ongoing project to improve the public’s access to the rich and diverse heritage of Colchester by installing interpretation panels at key locations. To date, over 40 have been installed, including around the complete circuit of the Roman Wall, and at Gosbecks Archaeological Park, St Botolph’s Priory and the Jumbo water tower.
The panel at the Roman Circus was funded by Rosemary Jewers, in memory of her husband, Tony, a TV cameraman, who worked for several major broadcasters during his professional career, including the BBC and ITV Anglia. It was erected by the museum service of Colchester City Council and unveiled by Rosemary in the presence of invited guests.
Cllr Michelle Burrows Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Heritage, said: “As a proud Colcestrian, I was excited to be present at the unveiling of the latest addition to Colchester’s heritage interpretation panels, particularly in this year of celebration for city status. The Roman Circus is one of the most important archaeological sites in Colchester and it is very good news that thanks to a generous donation we have been able to raise its profile for visitors and residents.”
Rosemary Jewers said: “My late husband, Tony, loved history, especially that of the Romans and the Egyptians. He would often tell me about some of the occasions he went to film excavations which were taking place in or around Colchester. I think Tony would have wholeheartedly approved of the erection of this panel in his memory, as, in the famous mission statement of the BBC, it informs, educates, and entertains.”
Pictured above, L-R: Rosemary Jewers; Cllr Dave Harris, and Cllr Michelle Burrows. Credit: Adrian Rushton Photography
Page last reviewed: 7 September 2023