English Heritage has issued a guidebook written by Professor Michael Fulford, excavator of the Roman town (2016). It replaces a series of earlier guides to the town.
Inside the front cover is a foldout plan indicating walking routes around the site. Inside the back is a plan of the Roman town and earlier Iron Age defences.
The guidebook includes a tour of the site, and is followed by a history. There are special features on: religion; the water supply and the force pump; dogs; diet; industry; the Ogham stone; the Victorian rubbish pit; and the Silchester collection at Reading Museum.
The Iron Age hillfort of Blackbury Camp is in Devon. It is approximately 200 m by 100 m, and the ramparts stand up to 3 m high. Excavations at the site revealed a supply of slingstones used to defend the settlement.
Blackbury Camp is in State Guardianship. It is one of several hillforts in the care of English Heritage.
There is a reconstruction of the so-called ‘Doctor’s Grave’ in the Colchester Museum. The grave itself was excavated at Stanway. One of the features is the presence of a gaming-board with counters laid out as if the game had been interrupted by the funeral. The cremated remains of the individual were found adjacent to the board. Note the presence of the Roman amphora.
There is a new guidebook to Colchester Castle by Tom Hodgson and Philip Wise (Jarrold Publishing and Colchester Castle, 2015). This beautifully designed and colour illustrated book of 72 pp follows the history of Colchester through the collections displayed in the Colchester Museum.
The castle itself is built on the foundations of the Temple of the Divine Claudius destroyed during the Boudican revolt.
The main sections are:
a. Iron Age (including the Sheepen Cauldron dating to 1275-1140 BC; the Mount Bures Firedog; the Augustus Medallion from the Lexden Tumulus)
b. Roman Invasion (including tombstones of veterans from the colony; the Fenwick Treasure perhaps deposited during the Boudican destruction)
c. Roman Heyday (including slave rings; ‘the Colchester Vase’ showing gladiatorial combat, dating to AD 175-200; lead curse tablets; the Colchester Sphinx excavated on the site of the Essex County Hospital in 1821)
d. Roman Decline (including Christianity in Roman Colchester; jet bear)
e. Saxons and Normans (including St Botolph’s Priory; the Town Charter)
f. Medieval (including Medieval painting)
g. Post Medieval (including the Colchester Martyrs; the Siege of Colchester in the Civil War)
h. Modern (including the formation of the museum collection; Colchester Castle in wartime including an exhibition in 1944)
Inside the back cover is a plan of Colchester pointing visitors to key locations around the town.
I have two other guides to the collection: Colchester Castle: a history, description and guide (Colchester Borough council, 4th edition, 1978). This includes plans of the castle and a more detailed history. There is also a section drawing showing how the castle included the Roman temple in its foundations.
The second guide is Roman Colchester by M.R. Hull (Colchester Town Council, 1947). This was prepared ‘in response to a great demand among visitors to Colchester Museum for a Guide to Roman Colchester’. The sections are:
1. Colchester before the Romans
2. The beginnings of Roman Colchester
3. The colonia
5. The visible remains of the Roman town
6. Civic organisation and administration
7. The Middle Empire
8. The legend of King Coel
9. The end of Roman Colchester
There is a particularly useful foldout paper plan inside the back cover.
One of the earliest guides is Dr J. Horace Round’s The History and Antiquities of Colchester Castle (1882).
I have been working on the spread of board games alongside the consumption of wine. Board games appear in the iconography of Athenian sympotic pottery from at least the sixth century BC. Physical board games appear in burials in the Po Valley from the late 6th century BC onwards, often placed alongside Attic sympotic pottery.
The appearance of a board games, with glass counters, in the Welwyn Garden City Iron Age burial (and now displayed in the British Museum) may be an extension of this earlier phenomenon. The burial itself dates to the late 1st century BC. Scholars have mapped the spread of wine consumption across western Europe through the distribution of wine amphorae. But are board games part of this cultural impact?
Pre-Roman Colchester was defended by a series of linear earthworks stretching for over 12 miles. Part of the remains are in the care of English Heritage and can be viewed at Bluebottle Grove, part of the Lexden Dyke.