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Scheduled Monument Number 46327.

and under threat!

June 2005 to January 2008

Here follows some of the latest press coverage which followed the discovery of the only know Roman circus in Britain.

For details of the Roman Bathhouse discovery, please go here.

 19th January 2008

Mosaic Unveiled

On the 19th January a mosaic was unveiled on the site of the circus. This had been produced by a local school to a design by Peter Frost. To see a video of the event please try the following links:




Pete Frosts design above.

One of the exhibits above.

The mosaic in its new position above.

Griff Rhys Jones, accompanied by members of Her Majesty's Armed Forces, the Colchester Roman Society, Mr Bob Russell (MP for Colchester), the Mayor of Colchester (in flat cap, Councillor Ray Gamble), children from Philip Morant School who helped make the mosaic.


Essex County Standard - 14th December 2007

Essex County Standard - 7th December 2007

The starting gates of the circus may end up in somebody's private garden.

Far better surely to put this piece of land into public ownership?

If you would like to comment on these plans, remember, this is a scheduled ancient monument that Colchester Borough Council have under their protection.

The planning number is 072831 and the email address for CBC Planning is:- planning.services@colchester.gov.uk

The cabinet member with responsibility for our heritage is Conservative Councillor Christopher Arnold.

A letter to the Essex County Standard at ecs.letters@nqe.com would also help keep the issue in the public eye.

The planning application is here:


Essex County Standard - 12th October 2007

email responses - June 2007

David wrote:

"Would it be possible to be creative .. and perhaps have a competition to design a monument to represent the site..."

Certainly Tescos did this for the Nailsea Glassworks (1788-1874 - North Somerset - in its day reputedly the fourth largest in the country), having built over a significant portion of the site.

They commissioned a study, principally for web publication (see ADS website if interested) and also have two very artistic, attractive and informative interpretive features in ceramic tiles and glass set in to one wall of the supermarket. I can supply images if interested.

I have no idea of how much this exercise cost them, so cannot help there.



My thoughts would be; did the developer (I think I saw them mutter some kind of agreement on TV) say they would help fund the site interpretation?

 How to interpret such a huge monument, with so much modern intrustion/distraction making it hard to understand the monument if only represented by lines or marks in the ground...

 Would it be possible to be creative .. and perhaps have a compitition to design a monument to represent the site... (like a statue of a chariot racer standing beside a single horse. Or 4 bronze dolphins like the lap markers... etc..... they would have people walking over to find out what it meant and with a good enough interpretation panel... bob's yer uncle...

 Try asking the contractors whats going on... they should have an agreement with the developer... and think about highlighting it in the local papers...

Just a thought


Hello Longinus

You might like to look at www.wessexarch.co.uk/25years/panel13.html which is a brief piece about the Tudor Arcade/Waitrose development in Dorchester some years ago. I always get a bit of a shiver/sense of time passed and passing in the Waitrose car park even though the Neolithic timber henge is only represented by some red circles. Of course marking Colchester circus would depend on what is being built on top of it.


On Thursday 15th February 2007, Colchester Borough Planning Committee met to deliberate on the first application that affects the status of the circus. The following statement was made by a member of the public against the application.

Application RM/COL/06/1939

In 2000, the Head Street development destroyed forever the evidence of the AD 43 Roman fortress, a Roman water feature and numerous other Roman building foundations and tessalated pavements. This is just one of many examples of what people describe as the destruction of our heritage to make way for new building work. We have recently discovered in Colchester the only known Roman circus in Britain, a unique find that joins others of our ancient monuments such as our magnificent Roman wall, the Balkerne Gate, two Roman theatres, the earliest Christian church in Britain, our Norman castle built on top of a Roman temple, etc, etc. Colchester has more Roman history than anywhere in Britain - and it needs our protection.

This planning application clearly shows the developer's intention to build multi-storey buildings within 5 metres of the foundations of our Roman circus. That's a little over 16 feet in old money. From here to ......... The original understanding that I and others had was that 10 metres was to be the minimum but then, the original understanding was that new buildings would only be two stories high.

I ask that you consider very carefully the implications of allowing these plans to be passed. This application, if approved, would set a precedent for all future developments. It would be the first attack that we have had on our Roman circus. Whatever you allow to happen here will affect all future planning applications concerning the Roman circus and could jeopardise the future display possibilities associated with tourism.

I ask, on behalf of the many people that I have spoken with and for future generations that follow us, that no new buildings are allowed to be built within a 10 metre zone outside of the surviving circus foundations - and that nothing whatsoever be built within its perimeter.

I further ask that, a decision on this application be deferred until an agreement has been reached that the position of the circus track, its spine, its walls and any other relevant archaeological feature should be clearly marked out on the surface of the land, including on main roads and pathways. This has already been done to good effect in Maidenburgh Street to show the Roman theatre's position. This planning requirement would be for the benefit of all of us all and for future generations and for visitors to our town.

This can so easily be achieved, with minimal cost, if done at the initial construction stage. It would set the precedent necessary for all future developments to fall into line with.

Colchester's Roman circus needs your protection. Please remember that our archaeological remains are unique inheritances from times long past and should be treasured, maintained and safeguarded from neglect, damage and destruction and passed on into perpetuity as irreplaceable 'Timestones of History'.

The plans were passed, the precedent has been set, the requirement for an enforceable and consistent method of marking the location of the circus was not set. The developers got their way. They proposed to put a few studs in their car park to mark the site location.

How long will studs last?

Why not green tarmac and paviors?

How many storeys will the next application ask for?

What distance will they be placed away from the circus?

Does anybody care?

Essex County Standard - 2nd February 2007


What do you think?

Evening Gazette - 30th January 2007

If only the Conservative led Colchester Borough Council gave this site the status that it needs. Instead they want to build houses on it. At least Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, is raising the issue, despite being powerless to do anything.

An extract from the Friends of Colchester Archaeological Trust Newsletter 2006/7

The closure of Napier Road to lay new storm drains and services provided an excellent opportunity for the Trust to continue to plot the location of the Roman circus. An excavation in advance of laying the new services exposed one of the best preserved lengths of buttressed wall so far identified. Both the inner and outer walls were recorded. The inner wall, as has been seen throughout the circus work, was poorly preserved, but the outer wall was exceptionally well preserved and showed the start of the curve for the semicircular eastern end of the circus, where the main entrance lay. The wall's excellent state of preservation led to a change in the method of laying the new services originally planned by the developer. In order to leave the wall foundation in situ and undamaged, a tunnel was constructed and the new pipe was laid by thrust boring. Seven burials were recorded on the site, in addition to the circus remains. These burials are likely to be a continuation of the cemetery first identified to the south of the circus in the summer of 2004.

Another piece of Garrison work on the corner of Abbey Field produced further useful information about the internal layout of the circus. The excavation of a new cable trench alongside the all-weather hockey pitch on Abbey Field identified the robbed foundations of the central barrier or spina from the arena. Only two small sections were identified in the narrow trench but they fit well with the estimated location of the spina. Another piece of the circus puzzle falls into place!

Evening Gazette - 17th October 2006

Evening Gazette - 19th July 2006

Evening Gazette - 23rd January 2006

Evening Gazette - 20th January 2006

Evening Gazette - 19th January 2006

So, here we go with the planning stage. Watch carefully from this point as the new land owners come into play!

Evening Gazette - 19th December 2005

Seven storey buildings proposed at the edge of the circus when only two storey were proposed at the planning permission stage.

Evening Gazette - 15th June 2005

Essex County Standard - 17th June 2005



and, for details of

Colchester Archaeological Trust's Chris Lister,

as well as some very important archaeological finds, please see below.

Evening Gazette - 26th April 2005

East anglian Daily Times - 27th April 2005

East anglian Daily Times - 2nd August 2005


Evening Gazette - 1st August 2005


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