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Balkerne Gate, Colchester: Oldest Roman Gateway In Britain

The Balkerne Gate stands as a monumental testament to the rich history of Roman Colchester. As the largest surviving gateway in Roman Britain, it served as the main entrance to the walled Roman town, marking its strategic significance and enduring legacy.

Constructed around the AD 50s, the Balkerne Gate incorporated an existing free-standing monumental arch, celebrating the Claudian conquest of Britain. This architectural marvel created a double-arched gateway, flanked by walkway arches and external guardrooms, forming an imposing entrance into Colchester.

Today, the southern pedestrian archway of the Balkerne Gate still stands, offering a glimpse into its former grandeur. Despite being only a fragment of its original structure, it remains an iconic symbol of Roman engineering and design.

Listed as a scheduled monument and Grade I listed structure, the Balkerne Gate serves as a reminder of Colchester’s ancient past and architectural prowess. Alongside the impressive Roman town walls, which are among the earliest, best-preserved, and longest in Britain, it provides a glimpse into the town’s rich heritage.

Visitors to Colchester can explore the Roman Wall, which can be walked around and best seen in Castle Park and at the top of Balkerne Hill near the Hole in the Wall public house. These remnants of the past offer insight into Colchester’s strategic importance as a stronghold of a major tribe in the south-east of Roman Britain.

Furthermore, a visit to Colchester Castle provides an opportunity to delve deeper into the town’s fascinating history. With engaging exhibits and informative tours, the castle museum offers a captivating journey through Colchester’s Roman past, enriching the visitor’s understanding of this ancient town’s significance.

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