Chester Roman Amphitheatre

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Things to do


Date of travel

July, 2017

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If you go expecting to the Colosseum then you will be very disappointed. Although Chester was once the largest fortress in Britain and one of the most important military bases in the Empire, little now remains. For Britain, the amphitheatre was large, seating over 8000 spectators. After the fall of Rome, much of the stone was robbed out as a convenient source of building material. The amphitheatre was built over and forgotten, only being ‘rediscovered’ and partially excavated in the 1960s.

Just under half of the amphitheatre is exposed with two of the entrances. The rest lies hidden beneath the brick wall and a C18th House. There were proposals to excavate the rest of the amphitheatre last year but the city council decided to leave them “undisturbed for future generation”.

There isn’t a lot to see here, just half of the arena. The original stone seats have been replaced by modern concrete maps. There are a few information boards. Although it is surrounded by busy roads, being next to the Newgate, it is never the less a welcome green area to sit and dream what it might have been like nearly 2000 years ago.

Is it worth a visit? If you are used to Roman remains seen in other parts of Europe you will be disappointed, BUT as there are only “ten other amphitheatres”: to survive in the UK, it does make it worth a quick visit, even if you only pause when walking round the walls.

Don’t miss the Roman Garden close by or the remains of an angle tower by Newgate. The “Church of St John the Baptist”: by the amphitheatre is also worth a look. The Victorian exterior hides the best Norman church in Cheshire.


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