Colchester Castle | Attraction Guides | History Hit

About Colchester Castle

Colchester Castle is a beautifully preserved Norman stronghold with a rich history dating back to Roman times.

Built from 1076 (some say from 1069) and completed in around 1100, Colchester Castle was constructed under the order of King William I for use as a royal fortress.

Colchester Castle would go on to serve several other roles, including being besieged in 1215 by King John and becoming the site of interrogation and jailing of “witches” in 1645 by a self-proclaimed Witchfinder General called Matthew Hopkins. It was also a private home and a library at different times.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Colchester Castle is its keep, which is said to be the largest example of a Norman keep Britain. The grand size of this central tower is a legacy from Roman times as it was built on the foundations of a vast Roman temple known as the Temple of Claudius (said to date back to the 1st century AD). Colchester itself was Roman Britain’s first capital.

The Temple of Claudius has a dramatic story of its own, having been attacked by the forces of Queen Boudica. The people of Colchester then shut themselves inside the temple, only to be killed within two days.

Today, Colchester Castle is a museum open to the public. Guided tours are available and allow access to those who wish to view the foundations and remains of the Temple of Claudius.