Chester’s Archaeological Remains

You can discover Chester’s fascinating history by visiting some of the ruins and remains in and around the city:

Chester Rows

The Rows

These are the galleries that run through the fronts of the houses at first-floor level on the four main streets in the city centre.  The Rows gave access to the main living accommodation, the first-floor halls. At the row front there may have been separate shops, but in the smaller examples the hall itself doubled as the shop. Many were built during the prosperous times of the thirteenth century.

Chester CrossThe Cross

At the junction of Watergate Street, Eastgate Street and Bridge Street. The heart of modern Chester was also the centre of the Roman fortress. Today’s main streets still follow the lines of the Roman originals. The cross itself is medieval. It was pulled down in 1646 but replaced in its original position in 1975. This was the main market place in the medieval period, in front of St Peter’s Church.

St John’s ruins

The ruins of the original medieval cathedral of Chester. St John’s was founded in 689 and served as a cathedral from 1075 to 1102. Early in the twelfth century St John’s embarked on an ambitious rebuilding programme. It was probably intended to construct two western towers but only one was ever built, which dominated the Chester skyline until it collapsed in 1881. Half of this fine Romanesque church survives in use, the rest is ruined.

Minerva Shrine and Roman quarryMinerva Shrine, Chester

On the south side of the River Dee in Edgar’s Field. This was the source of the building stone for the fortress. A shrine to the goddess Minerva was carved into the rock by the Roman masons. This is a unique monument. Over time the stone has weathered so that now only a faint outline remains. The opening to the right, known as Edgar’s Cave, is possibly a natural fissure that was enlarged after the shrine was carved.

 AmphitheatreChester roman amphitheatre

The Roman amphitheatre was built in a commanding position and dominated the south-eastern side of the fortress. The first amphitheatre, built in the late first century was constructed of stone and had timber-framed seating. This was later replaced by a second much larger stone building – the biggest amphitheatre in Roman Britain.

 Roman StrongroomRoman Strong Room, Chester

The strongroom of the Roman military headquarters in Hamilton Place, just off Northgate Street. This was a secure storage area for the army’s pay chests.