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TEMPLE OF CLAUDIUS

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A site of a large classical style Roman temple that now lies underneath and forms part of the foundations of the Norman castle at Colchester (see UID 536814). Construction of the temple began after the establishment of the colony "Colonia Claudia Victricensis" in AD 49. It was destroyed during the Boudican rebellion of AD 60-61. Rebuilt in AD 62, it was repaired again after a fire at the end of the 2nd Century AD. The temple may have been converted into a Christian basilican church in the first half of the 4th century and then used as a type of domestic dwelling in the late 4th/5th century. By the mid 5th century the temple had fallen into ruin.
Only a few structural remains of the temple have been revealed through archaeological excavations, such as the temple's podium which supported the temple's superstructure. Due to the scant remains, the temple's plan has been reconstructed from its foundations and from the standardised nature of Roman architecture which allows analogies to be made with other classical temples. The temple had a main room (cella) with a porch like space in front (pronaos). There were rows of columns down the sides forming aisles and a large altar stood immediately in front of the temple. The temple was surrounded by a large court or precinct (temenos), defined by a boundary wall with monumental screen. The temple building measured 20 metres high and was built of stone (a mixture of flint and septaria) with a tile roof. The Temple of Claudius is the largest known classical temple in Britain and is on the same scale as temples in Rome. It was dedicated to the Emperor Claudius and was the base for the imperial cult in Britain. It is mentioned by a number of Roman writers, including Tacitus, Cassius Dio and Suetonius, who wrote that during the Boudican uprising the Roman colonists made their final stand in the temple, which ended when the temple roof was set alight.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the Historic England website.