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Page last updated at 12:09 GMT, Wednesday, 17 February 2010
Historian Dan Cruickshank backs bid to buy Roman site

TV historian backs Roman project

Historian Dan Cruickshank has urged people to support a bid to buy the site of a former Roman circus in Colchester.

Local campaigners need £26,000 to reach the required £200,000 to purchase land on the town's former garrison, which once hosted chariot racing.

Two weeks ahead of the late February deadline to reach the sum, Cruickshank visited the site to voice his support.

"All I can do is raise the profile and remind people of its importance both to Colchester and to the world," he said.

"I can't believe such an important object will not get the support it deserves," he told BBC Essex.

Colchester Archaeological Trust and Destination Colchester are behind the bid to buy the site, which used to host chariot racing.

Artist's impression of Roman circus
The quarter-mile track hosted up to 15,000 spectators

The original deadline set by developers Taylor Wimpey of 31 January was extended by a month.

Cruickshank, who has presented several historical series for the BBC, said the Roman site was of huge significance.

"It's a reminder of how incredibly historically interesting Colchester is," he said.

"Anybody who knows the town well knows it has an incredible history and pulsates with the past.

"It's the largest Roman building ever found in Britain, one of the only circuses north of the Alps.

"In a way it takes you straight back to life in Colchester 1700 years or so ago."

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