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Roman History in Chester, UK

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One of the great tragedies of my life is that the Romans found it too hard going conquering Britain properly. Too cold, the people too savage and the landscape too harsh (raining too much most likely!). I say this because living in the south of Spain, there are stunning Roman amphitheatres, original walls and whole cities and gates that have stood throughout 2000 years of history. I would love to have these kind of monuments in Britain, but the truth is there are not too many - so where we do find them, we should celebrate them!

The amphitheatre in Chester is the largest found in the entirety of Britain, and there is evidence that there were at least two stories of seating, and it lays right next to the original Roman fortress site. The games and gladiators and arena fights were incredibly important to the Romans, and betting casually on death and pain and destruction may seem strange to a modern audience, but it was a major part of the entertainment scene in the 1st Century AD.

Baths and roads that last forever

The two largest streets in Chester, Bridge Street and Eastgate were once the arteries that fed Roman Chester. The Via Pretoria and Via Principalis. You can usually tell which areas had Roman roads, as they are incredibly old looking, whilst managing to be incredibly straight and well preserved. The engineering capabilities were remarkable, and the reason why many survive today. These roads allowed everything in the entire empire to be standardised, and also allowed the soldiers of the empire to march incredible distances in very little time. People also say these roads allowed the soldiers to always know what was ahead of them, with no corners to turn around.

There is also a Roman garden in Chester that features stone columns, some ancient heating systems and building ruins. Many of the most famous surviving Roman ruins are in the form of baths (that later peoples were more than happy to use, if not maintain), like the ones in Bath. There are also plenty of surviving Roman walls, although not in very significant parts.


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The author

Joe Thorpe

Joe Thorpe

I am Joe. I grew up in the UK, have lived in Africa and Paris, and now reside in Spain. An outdoor enthusiast, I like nothing more than to find a deserted beach, build a campfire and enjoy the view.

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