Colchester to make UNESCO's elite World Heritage list?

The Pyramids, Great Wall of China, Stonehenge and...Colchester? The Essex town is preparing an audacious bid to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and it's not as unlikely as it sounds. Destination Colchester, a group of local business owners and heritage enthusiasts, is preparing a bid to be entered onto a tentative list of the UK's heritage sites. If the bid, due next Friday, is successful, Colchester could find itself inscribed alongside famous British landmarks like Bath Spa, Hadrian's Wall and the Tower of London.

Colchester has already been making headlines this year with a bid to preserve Britain's only known chariot racetrack, or circus. But while the campaign, which enlisted the help of famous faces such as historian Dan Cruickshank, reached its £200,000 target earlier this year, Destination Colchester member Bill Hayton thinks the city has undersold itself for too long. “We want to put Colchester on the map – it's been our intention for some time,” he says. “We are fed up with the way the town has failed to make the most of what it's got here. And when you stand back and look at what Colchester has, it is pretty extraordinary – yet very little-known outside the town.”



Colchester is thought to be the first Roman town in the UK, called Camulodunum. Replacing an already thriving Iron Age community, the city boasts Britain's oldest and longest Roman wall, its first Roman church, two theatres, a temple of Claudius – on which Colchester Castle sits today – and the circus. It was also where Celtic queen Boudicca began her bloody revolt, burning the city to the ground. Despite an illustrious Medieval history, the bid's organisers are focusing solely on Colchester's Iron Age and Roman era. “We think we have an amazing assemblage of Roman and pre-Roman sites in the town,” adds Hayton. “It's the fusing of Roman and pre-Roman cultures...when you look at the whole landscape, you can see it's a very large-scale settlement.”



If the initial bid is successful, “there'll be a lot more serious work to go forward,” says Hayton. A second proposal would have to be sent to UNESCO through the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. “We're being assisted by the borough council officers and we're seeking formal endorsements from the local council, the county council, our local MPs and other people,” adds Hayton. Anyone wishing to help the bid can voice their support on the team's Facebook page, Love Roman Colchester. There will also be a photo shoot for supporters in Colchester High Street at 11.00am next Tuesday.



Local archaeologist Philip Crummy, who led the circus campaign, claims a successful bid would be “good for heritage and good for archaeology,” but admits some people may be “concerned.” While inscription on the list may offer prestige there is no extra money – though funding through other parties may become easier. It also protects from future development: good news for some, but it has caused problems in developing nations and historic city centres like Brugges.



None of this is likely to deter Destination Colchester, however, who are determined to make a tentative list which currently includes ancient UK sites such as Monkwearmouth and Jarrow Saxon monasteries and Anguilla's Fountain Cavern. “We're looking to raise the profile of Colchester as a desirable tourist visit,” says bid organiser Jess Jephcott. “I think we've neglected our heritage too much in Colchester and we're trying to make it sexy."



Video: Colchester, Britain's First Roman City

10 Ways to Get Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Tonight on BBC Two: 'Atlantis, The Evidence' with historian Bettany Hughes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

    Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

    Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

    £100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee