Colchester is said to be Britain’s oldest recorded town; settled in the 1st century BC by the Trinovantes, it was called Camulodunum. Surviving from the Roman period are the ruined walls of a temple, later incorporated into the Norman castle. The castle today houses an archaeological museum with very extensive Roman collections. Opposite the castle, a former church now holds a natural history museum. Numerous Georgian houses, art galleries, and green parks combine to make Colchester a rewarding destination.
On the border of Cambridgeshire is Saffron Walden, an attractive little town known for growing crocuses, from which saffron is harvested for the cloth trade. South of Saffron Walden is the pretty thatched town of Thaxted. Dominating the town are its two trademarks, a 14th century church – one of the largest in Essex – and an old windmill.