A visit to Colchester Castle Museum takes you through 2000 years of some of the most important events in British history. Once capital of Roman Britain, Colchester has experienced devastation by Boudica (Boadicea), invasion by the Normans and siege during the English Civil War.
Since the 16th century, the Castle has been a ruin, a library and a gaol for witches. Today it is an award winning museum featuring many hands-on displays showing Colchester's history from the Stone Age to the Civil War.
The Castle itself is the largest keep ever built by the Normans. It was constructed on the Roman temple of Claudius, which can still be seen today.
Colchester Castle is undeniably one of the most important historic buildings in the country.
Colchester was the first capital of Roman Britain and beneath the Castle are the remains of the most famous Roman buildings, the Temple of Claudius. Today if you lay your hand on the stonework of the temple it can be said that you are touching the very foundation of Roman Britain.
To Romans the temple was a symbol of their power and success, but to the native Britons it was a symbol of oppression. The temple became a main target of the rebels led by Queen Boudica who attacked the Roman town of Colchester in AD 60. The town's citizens barricaded themselves into the temple but after two days they were all killed.
It is estimated that up to 30,000 people could have been killed during the sacking of Colchester. After the revolt was suppressed the town and its magnificent temple were rebuilt.
Around 1076 William I ordered a royal fortress to be built at Colchester. The great stone base of the ruined Roman temple was an obvious foundation for the central tower, or keep, of the castle.
The huge size of the temple meant that the keep of Colchester Castle was the largest ever built in Britain and is the largest surviving example in Europe. For most of its life the Castle was used as a prison. One of the most infamous episodes in its history occured in 1645 when Matthew Hopkins, the self-styled Witchfinder General, used the Castle to imprison and interrogate suspected witches.
The Castle first opened to the public as a museum in 1860. Today it is still a living vibrant place.
It is not only the town's flagship museum, but it is also in a real sense a symbol of Colchester, Britain's oldest recorded town.
Colchester Castle Museum is situated in Castle Park at the eastern end of the High St. The nearest car parks are St Botolph's, Britannia and Osborne Street. The museum is a five minute walk from the bus station and Colchester Town railway station.
Mon - Sat 10am - 5pm all year round Sun 11am - 5pm
Last admission 4.30pm
Please visit our website for our current Admission Prices...