Race you to the Roman Circus!

Hi Esme here,

Being new to Colchester, I wanted to learn more about the history of the town, especially as I get asked lots of interesting questions when working at Colchester Castle. I thought I’d find out what’s on offer and share it with you too. Walk this way!

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The town has many arts and heritage sites, as you can see. The place I have chosen to show you on this occasion is the Roman Circus, which was discovered in 2004. Used for the dangerous sport of chariot racing, it is the only one of it’s kind discovered in Britain and I’m pretty excited that it’s on our doorstep!

On the walk from Colchester’s town centre to the Circus there are pieces of artwork, some representing artefacts that are on display in the Castle. The ship image on the right includes an oyster, a favourite Roman lunch.

The Roman Circus Centre is the hub for information about Roman chariot racing in Colchester. It has a café (which is always worth a mention!) and interesting models and displays showing what the Circus would have looked like. More information about the site can be found in the grounds of the Centre. You can even line up a diagram, which gives you an idea of the scale of the gates that horses and chariots were released from.

My turn! During training in design and museum display, we Trainees recently looked at the different ways stories can be presented. As a consequence, my eyes are now constantly scanning for informative and interactive displays. I found this to be an ingenious and simple way to help visitors travel back in time and visualise the buildings.

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I was left wondering what it would be like to race a real Roman chariot? Would it be difficult to control the horses? What would the Circus sound like? If only I had two wheels and a few horses to answer those questions…

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…I returned to Colchester Castle to have my questions answered. Here I am racing a chariot and trying to catch up with the driver in front. It’s difficult not to shout at the screen! The display is totally interactive and very fun! It’s great to be able to experience the Circus both in person and virtually. Hearing the roar of the crowds adds an extra dimension to understanding what Roman entertainment might have been like.

I hope you will all be encouraged to pay a visit to these sites and time travel back 2000 years too.

See you soon!

Esme

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