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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
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

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

    £20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Broker / Purchaser

    £18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

    £18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

    Recruitment Genius: Call Centre Manager - OTE £50,000

    £25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative online car purc...

    Day In a Page

    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate