Colchester Through the Ages

A Brief History of Colchester Through the Ages

From the iron-age tribes to the Roman conquerors and the hard times of the Middle Ages up into the flourishing modern day, Colchester has witnessed it all. Renowned as Britain's oldest town and now a city, Colchester has a centuries-old history to share that will engage anyone interested in the bygone eras.


Before we amble down the labyrinth of Colchester's rich past, let's take a moment to remember how history shapes and informs the present. The tale of Colchester embodies evolving cultures, wars, scientific progress, and unforgettable events - all of which have left indelible marks on the town's structure and consciousness.

Iron Age Settlement

Around the 5th century BC, the Celtic tribes of Britain chose Colchester as their settlement due to its strategic location by the River Colne. Known then as Camulodunum, the town developed rapidly, drawing attention for its magnificent European trading links and opulent Celtic temples.

Roman Invasion

In AD 43, the Romans invaded Britain, and, seeing the appeal and potential of Camulodunum, made it the capital. Roman Colchester was a sight to behold, complete with a theatre, an array of temples, and walls - parts of which are still standing today.

The Middle Ages

Fast-forward to the Middle Ages, Colchester maintained its status as an important strategic location. Despite the devastation caused by the Viking raids and the Black Death, the town thrived, known for its thriving wool trade and renowned oyster fisheries.

Modern Colchester

The modern history of Colchester is just as compelling, surviving both World Wars, with the town being hit heavily during the second. Today, it is a bustling and vibrant town with a thriving cultural scene and a proud connection to its rich historical heritage.

Take Away Thoughts

The journey of Colchester through the ages is a fascinating one. It's more than a town; it's a testament to human resilience, progress, and the inevitable march of time. Coming to terms with the historical depth of Colchester, we learn that every building tells a story, every street has a saga, and every era leaves an indelible print on the city's character. Today's Colchester reflects the amalgamation of incidents, cultures and people who once graced her, making her not just Britain's oldest town, but also one of its most captivating.

From Celts to Romans to Vikings, survival of plague and wars to thriving in peace, the history of Colchester tells us how different eras shaped this town, creating a legacy that still echoes through today’s streets. Colchester has evolved, adapted and flourished despite numerous invasions, destructive illnesses, and wars. It is now the oldest city in Britain and a living testament to a rich tapestry of history that shapes our understanding of the past. This enchanting town offers a peek into the pages of history, which can fascinate, educate, and inspire generations of history enthusiasts.