Colchester (kōlˈchĭstər, –chĕsˌtər) [key], city (1991 pop. 87,476) and district, Essex, SE England, on the Colne River. The city is a grain and cattle market. The oyster fisheries of the Colne are important; an annual event is the October oyster feast. Other industries are flour milling, malting, and the making of boilers, gas engines, shoes, clothing, and farm machinery. Colchester was one of the great cities of pre-Roman Britain, the capital of the ruler Cunobelin (Shakespeare's Cymbeline). It became an important Roman colony and was the particular object of attack (A.D. 61) by Boadicea. To the Anglo-Saxons the place was known as Colneceaster. The witenagemot met there in 931. During the English civil war, the town was taken (1648) after a long siege by parliamentarians under Baron Fairfax of Cameron. Of interest are the preserved Roman walls and the massive Norman castle, part of which houses a museum of Roman antiquities. Colchester has a military base.
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