Take a Trip: Visit Colchester Castle, Essex

An ancient brick castle with small windows is surrounded by a large green lawn and blooming daffodils. Leafless trees and scattered clouds are illuminated by sunlight breaking through the foliage, creating a picturesque contrast with the blue sky.
Image © Colchester Museums via Facebook

Explore 2000 years of history at this family friendly place to be

The unassuming Essex town of Colchester is a hotbed of British history and culture. As Britain’s first ever city, now a town with over 2000 years of history behind it, it’s no doubt that the vast Colchester Castle is well worth a visit. Here you’ll find attractions and events for visitors of all ages, and the perfect way to get out of the city and enjoy a family day out. Here’s how we think you should while away a day in this 11th century castle.

Catch their latest exhibition Adorn: Jewellery, The Human Story

2019 sees Colchester Castle open up its first exhibition since reopening after refurbishment in 2014. Adorn: Jewellery, The Human Story is a journey through time in jewellery, a history of how we’ve adorned ourselves since as far back as the Bronze age. The exhibition boasts over 200 fascinating artefacts, some of which can be dated at 3,000 years old. Artefacts include some with origins in Colchester Castle, and some impressive pieces on loan from the British Museum. This exhibition is open until February 2020, and entry is included with the castle’s standard admission!

Explore the Castle History

The castle was built in 1076, on the ancient ruins of the Roman Temple of Claudius from a time when Colchester was the Roman capital of Britain. The castle was built by the Normans, who plundered Roman Colchester for their quality stone and built the great tower from the foundations of the temple. It didn’t see much military action in the medieval age and was being used as a prison by the 13th century. By the mid 1600s the castle was in ruins and was due to be demolished towards the end of the 17th century, yet was bought out and restored, thus preserving a vital plot of British heritage. Since then it has acted as a museum for archaeological treasures and received a huge refurbishment in 2013 - 2014.

The historic walls of this keep are loaded with fascinating history, and inside you’ll find a museum displaying the history of Colchester. Discover its Celtic past, its Roman invasion and the Boudiccan revolt, before exploring the Norman conquest and life in medieval Colchester. You can also head to the former prisons and delve into the history of England’s Civil War and its links to torturous Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins. The castle also boasts vital collections of British history, including Celtic coin hoards, medieval paintings and civil war armour.

Take a tour

For a completely unique view of both the town and the castle, take a guided tour up the Great Stairs and onto the roof! An expert guide will give you a passionate and well-informed tour of this ancient building, and a trip onto the roof will give you a once in a lifetime view of the surrounding area. Your tour will also take you down into the depths of the castle’s foundations, exploring the steep steps and low arches of the Roman vaults!

Have some fun

For younger kids (or big kids at heart) the museum is filled to the brim with interactive activities that truly bring history to life. Dress up like a Roman soldier and chase chariots, pretend you’re on guard duty with the roof-top tour, construct a beautiful mosaic or build an authentic Norman archway. You can also rent a tablet and experience the castle in augmented reality. 360° views and animated objects will help younger visitors relate to the ancient history of their surroundings.

All Image credits: Colchester Museums via Facebook