- The Mayor unveils the Scheregate interpretation board
On Saturday 26 November 2016, the Mayor of Colchester, Cllr Julie Young, unveiled the interpretation board at the top of the Scheregate steps. This board was sponsored by the Colchester Tourist Guides Association and many of its members were present to mark the occasion.
The board commemorates two aspects of the wall’s history. First, the opening in the wall that was made in medieval times to allow visitors to reach St John’s Abbey more easily and, second, the life of ‘Freddie the Shrimp-Man’ who, for most of the 20th Century, used to sell his shellfish at the top of the steps.
The ‘Scheregate’ is the only surviving medieval gate in the wall and its name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word scaerd, which means ‘gap’. The current timber-framed buildings around the gate date from the 17th century. Then, as now, the steps leading down would have been lined with shops.
The unveiling of the Priory Street interpretation board
On Friday 11 September 2015 the fifth wall interpretation board was unveiled by the Mayor of Colchester Cllr Theresa Higgins and Mark Davies representing the Colchester Archaeological Group. The Group chose to sponsor this board because of its links with this particular site. The Group’s first excavation, in 1965, recorded the foundations of the bastion that once stood here.
Our Chairman of the Friends noted that ‘If ever there was a Board which perfectly illustrates the need for interpretation of our Wall, this is it.’
On the face of it the Wall at this point is made up of brick, some of it obviously very modern. In fact this point was the site of a breach in the Wall at the time of the 1648 Siege. It was knocked down by Parliamentary cannon located on Magdalen Green nearby. Also visible here are the surviving bastions. Four of the original eight remain above ground. These were erected after the Peasants Revolt of 1381 when the authorities were worried by the possibility of further rebellion.
Wall Bastion in Priory Street
Please join us as we unveil the fifth Roman Wall interpretation board at 10am on Friday 11 September 2015.
This Board has been kindly sponsored by the Colchester Archaeological Group and it will be unveiled jointly by the Mayor of Colchester, Cllr. Theresa Higgins, and the CAG Chair and Friends Trustee, Mark Davies. The Board will stand on the land of Priory Street Car Park, almost opposite the entrance to The Dell Retirement Homes.
The Chairman of the Friends, Henry Spyvee, comments ‘If ever there was a Board which perfectly illustrates the need for interpretation of our Wall, this is it.’ On the face of it the Wall at this point is made up of brick, some of it obviously very modern. In fact this point was the site of a breach in the Wall at the time of the 1648 Siege. It was knocked down by Parliamentary cannon located on Magdalen Green nearby.
Also visible here are the surviving bastions. Four of the original eight remain above ground. These were erected after the Peasants Revolt of 1381 when the authorities were worried by the possibility of further rebellion.
Trustee Andrew Phillips with board sponsor Sir Bob Russell and family
The Friends are very pleased to announce the unveiling of the fourth of our heritage interpretation boards. On 21 March 2015 Sir Bob Russell, then the town’s MP, along with his family and supported by Colchester’s mayor, Cllr John Elliott, formally revealed the board.
Sir Bob and his family generously sponsored the board, with other costs paid for by the Friends and the Borough Council.
The board stands next to what was the North Gate of the Roman city and, in more recent history, the Colchester cattle market. The market operated at Middleborough from 1862 until 1975. A trough stands nearby to commemorate the site’s former function.
The North Gate was one of the main entrances to the Roman city. Its upper levels and central gateway were removed in 1774 and most of the rest of the remains cleared in 1823. There is very little now to show the magnificent structure that was once in place. The interpretation board is a reminder of what was once there. Please come and admire!
North Gate drinking fountain (Picture: Following Hadrian, Flickr)
Please join us for the unveiling of the fourth interpretation board on Saturday 21 March 2015 at 10am.
The board will be unveiled by our local MP Sir Bob Russell and family in the presence of the Mayor, Cllr John Elliott, and the Borough Council’s Heritage Portfolio Holder, Cllr Tim Young. (It will be a truly multi-party occasion.)
The interpretation board has been generously co-funded by Sir Bob himself in conjunction with the Friends and the Museums Service.
Northgate is where the Friends won their first battle to improve the setting of the wall, with the removal of a set of large advertising hoardings. We hope that the installation of the interpretation board will encourage greater interest in the heritage of this part of Colchester.
North Gate was one of the main entrances to the Roman city. Its upper levels and central gateway were removed in 1774 and most of the rest of the remains cleared in 1823. There is very little now to show the magnificent structure that was once in place. The interpretation board will be a reminder of what was once there. Please come and admire!
FoCRW Chair Henry Spyvee, Cllr Tim Young and FoCRW Trustee Andrew Phillips at the unveiling
The third of Colchester’s Roman Wall heritage boards was unveiled on Saturday 22 November – very kindly sponsored by the Colchester Civic Society to mark its 50th anniversary.
For the first time, residents and visitors to Colchester now have a permanent explanation of the history of the East Gate – located at the actual site. The board will form a key part of a heritage walk around the entire length of the Wall
Former Mayor of Colchester Henry Spyvee, who is the Chair of the Friends of Colchester Roman Wall said, “We hope that that the Wall Walk will give the townspeople some pride in their heritage and attract visitors to explore Colchester’s long and fascinating history.”
The bulk of the cost of the board was paid for by the Colchester Civic Society with the help of the Friends of Colchester Roman Wall and it was installed by the Colchester Museums Service. It was formally unveiled by Councillor Tim Young, CBC portfolio holder for heritage watched by a small crowd of members of the Civic Society and the Friends of Colchester Roman Wall.
The board stands half-way up East Hill and explains the history of Colchester’s East Gate. The original gate was built by the Romans in the 1st century AD but later destroyed. All that remains are stretches of the Wall itself and a Roman drain. The gate was rebuilt in medieval times and was the site of a dramatic event during the Civil War siege of Colchester in 1648 when the besieged Royalist army attempted to recapture the East Bridge over the river but were repulsed by the Parliamentarians.
The first two boards of the Roman Wall Walk were installed at Balkerne Gate near the Mercury Theatre, at Duncan’s Gate in Castle Park. The remaining boards will be installed over the next year or so to create a multi-stop tour explaining the history of the Wall.
The East Gate interpretation board in situ
Trustees and supporters gather for the unveiling of the interpretation board
FoCRW Chair Henry Spyvee opens the unveiling, watched by Philip Wise of Colchester Museums Service
Jess Jephcott, owner of the Camulos website, has produced a new leaflet as a guide to the wall. You can download it here and use it as a guide to visiting the Wall.
Jess also conducts guided walks of the Wall and you can find details of those here.
These are in addition to the walks conducted by the Town Guides, which can be booked here.
‘It is part of the vision of the Friends of Colchester Roman Wall to install a chain of thirteen Interpretation Boards around the Wall. That way both local people and tourists can learn more about the history of our fascinating Wall.
We will start at Balkerne Gate, the most high profile point on the Wall, where an old Board, well past its sell-by date, needs to be replaced. Boards cost about £1,000 each and we have the funds for this first one. Our aim is to install all of them over a period of about three years. That depends on the number of new Friends we get, other donations and sponsorship of individual Boards by businesses or people near them.
The style of the Boards will line up with signage at the Castle in its coming new makeover. The Friends are in consultation with Colchester and Ipswich Museum Services and its graphic designer about this.
This ambitious project is part of our plan to make the Wall look more cared for and more interesting than it does now. The Roman Wall is one of our greatest assets from the past. It is too easy for Colcestrians to take it for granted.’