Chester Roman Amphitheatre - History and Facts | History Hit

Chester Roman Amphitheatre

Chester, England, United Kingdom

Chester Roman Amphitheatre is Britain’s largest known Roman amphitheatre.

Lily Johnson

01 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Chester Roman Amphitheatre

Chester Roman Amphitheatre is Britain’s largest known Roman amphitheatre, whose remains give an idea of what was once a thriving centre of Roman life.

Chester Roman Amphitheatre history

Originally part of the Roman settlement of ‘Deva’, founded in around 79 AD in what is now Chester, Chester Roman Amphitheatre would have been able to seat between 8,000 and 12,000 spectators.

Two amphitheatres were actually built on the site of Chester Roman Amphitheatre, both stone-built with wooden seating but each quite different in other respects. The first had access to the upper tiers of seating using stairs on its rear wall, and had a shrine at its north entrance, while the second featured vaulted stairways as access to its seating. While both differed from each other, they also differed from the other amphitheatres found in the UK, indicating the significance Roman Chester held in the period.

At its peak, Chester Roman Amphitheatre was a training ground for Rome’s 20th Legion yet also an entertainment venue for the people of Deva. Recent findings have suggested that it was the site of gruesome gladiatorial shows, however the exact activities that would have taken place are unclear, with archaeologists still exploring Chester Roman Amphitheatre.

Chester Roman Amphitheatre today

Today, two-fifths of Chester Roman Amphitheatre lies visible to the public, yet provides a valuable look into Roman Britain. Though most of its materials were used to construct the Chester City Walls and much of it is buried under the modern landscape, the outline of the amphitheatre is clear, affording visitors an idea of its vast size.

In the sections that have been excavated, the remains of the shrine to Nemesis may be viewed alongside two entrances to the amphitheatre. Much of the original stone wall that lines the site is also on display, and in the summer military reenactments may be enjoyed there.

Getting to Chester Roman Amphitheatre

Chester Roman Amphitheatre is located in the centre of Chester on Little St John Street, with a number of car parks available in the city centre. A variety of bus services stop at Vicar’s Lane, a minute’s walk to the site, while Chester train station is also just a 13-minute walk away.

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