Friday, 16 January 2015

Colchester Castle, Castle Park, Colchester

I love History. Always have and more than likely always will. When we saw our house for the first time, a very exciting feature of it was the fact that we could see the top of Colchester Castle from the back window. I used to look out my back window in Hackney and see a housing estate and rutting foxes, so the prospect of even the tiniest bit of such a unique building was very exciting. A quick Wiki search has since told me that it was commissioned by William the Conquerer and is the largest Norman Keep in Europe. Although due to the fact that there seems to be no one responsible for Colchester's PR I'm sure not a lot of people know what a rare place it is. Shame.

Anyhow, 2 weeks after we moved here, The Castle closed. So there was a long, almost 2 year wait before we could actually go inside. Then in May last year, it finally opened and after a £4million lottery funded revamp, it's pretty good! My son thinks so anyway and would go every day if he was Head of Entertainment.

Imagine a blue sky, it really is a great building.

I do love a crest and this one hangs over the doorway at the entrance.

I didn't want to take too many pictures as that would spoil things for you if you end up visiting, but it's definitely worth a peek, especially if you like 'dug up treasure'. This place is bursting with artifacts that have been found in the ground round here. Below are a few pics to give a brief glimpse of some of the contents but there is also dressing up for the children, huge screens with loads of info on, the jail that Matthew Hopkins imprisoned his 'witches'. A fair bit to see basically. It costs £7.50 per adult, which actually I thought was a little steep but I think that is due to years of being able to visit London museums for free. However, you can purchase a yearly pass for about sixteen quid, which is what I decided to do. When you live locally and have a little kid, more than likely you will come here ALOT. My castle pass now gets almost as much use as my Colchester Zoo pass.

Of all the things on display here, my favorite items are the glassware. Not only because it is so beautiful, but because I think I may have found some of it in my back garden!

One day last October, I was sniffing around our poor neglected vegetable patch when I saw something shiny sitting on top of the soil, just below the Gooseberry Bush / stick. I have found lots of broken glass out the back over the last 2 years while trying to make the outside space more like a garden and less like a prison yard, and think it was probably used for drainage over the years. (Although we do live in the centre of town so it could have been chucked over the wall by the 'nightime economy'). However, on closer inspection these shiny objects were a different colour and thickness to anything I have found before.

There are 4 pieces in total of between 3 and 4 inches in length, its very thick in places and is a sort of pale green iridescent colour. Considering our house is built on top of the Roman Theatre, I'm not surprised there are things in the ground. Watching The Detectorists recently really made me want to buy a metal detector. Who knows what could be lurking underneath our miniscule shallots?! Its rather an exciting prospect particularly since last summer work on the the £30million refurbishment at Fenwicks / Williams + Griffen's on the High Street had to stop as the contractors stumbled across this in the ground:

A Roman Hoard!

Having looked at the glass in the Castle I think my glass might be pieces from a Funeral Urn (creepy) but to be sure I asked the Castle if I could bring it in for them to look at. Also, I wasn't sure, if is is Roman, if I should hand it in or if they might want to dig up the garden (be my guest), but sadly their Archeological Curator has just retired. Typical.

So, while I wait for the Curator position to be filled, I shall hang on to it and hope that no spirits got disturbed in the revealing of it. To get haunted by a Roman Ghost is all I need right now.

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