Colchester
Population:
107,830
 

Colchester is a town and is the main settlement of the Essex borough of Colchester in the East of England.

It has a population of 107,830 and, as the oldest recorded Roman town, makes claim to be the oldest town in Britain.

Colchester is located 51 miles (83 km) north east of London and is connected to the capital by the A12 road and the Great Eastern Main Line.

Colchester is claimed to be the oldest recorded Roman town in Britain. Its Celtic name was Camulodunon, meaning 'the fortress of (the war god) Camulos'. Following the Roman conquest of Britain in AD 43, a Roman legionary fortress was established and the name Camulodunon was modified to the Roman spelling of 'Camulodunum'. Camulodunum served as the first Roman capital of Britain, but was attacked and destroyed during Boudica's rebellion in AD 61. Sometime after the destruction, London became the capital of the province of Britannia but it would seem that the council of the provincial natives still met at Colchester, where the Temple to the Divine Claudius served as the seat of this council. Later, when the Roman frontier moved north (c. AD 49), Camulodunum became a colonia known as Colonia Claudia Victricensis.

Sub-Roman and Saxon Colchester
There is evidence of hasty re-organisation of Colchester's defences around 400AD, including the blocking of the Balkerne Gate. Archaeological excavations have shown that public buildings were abandoned, although the 8th-century chronicler Nennius mentioned the town, which he called Caer Colun, in his list of the 28 most important cities in Britain. The archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler was the first to propose that the lack of early Anglo-Saxon finds in a triangle between London, Colchester and St Albans could indicate a 'sub-Roman triangle' where British rule continued after the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons. Since then however, excavations have revealed some early Saxon occupation, including a 5th-century wooden hut built on the ruins of a Roman house in present-day Lion Walk. The Saxons called the town Colne ceaster, the Roman fortress of 'Colonia'. The tower of Holy Trinity Church is late Saxon work. Vikings from East Anglia overran Colchester and most of Essex in the late 9th century; the town remained in Viking hands until 920 when it was besieged and recaptured by the army of Edward the Elder.

Medieval Colchester

Colchester Castle, constructed over the vaults of the ruined Temple of ClaudiusMedieval Colchester's main landmark is Colchester Castle, which is an 11th century Norman keep, and built atop the vaults of the old Roman temple. There are notable medieval ruins in Colchester, including the surviving gateway of the Benedictine abbey of St. John the Baptist (know locally as "St. John's Abbey"), and the ruins of the Augustinian priory of St. Botolph (known locally as "St. Botolph's Priory").