About Chesters Roman Fort
Chesters Roman Fort, originally known as Cilurnum, was built as part of Hadrian’s Wall, the famous 73-mile barrier constructed under the remit of the Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century.
Chesters Roman Fort history
Chesters Roman Fort was built around 124 AD as a cavalry fort, and housed some 500 soldiers until the Romans left Britain in the 5th century. The first unit of troops were garrisoned at the fort to guard a bridge across the River Tyne, with an inscription naming them ala Augusta ob virtutem appellata, translated as ‘the cavalry regiment styled Augusta for its valour’.
In the mid-2nd century, the Sixth Legion were at Chesters Roman Fort and undertook a programme of building work, however it is uncertain as to whether they were permanently stationed there.
By 178-84 AD the Second Asturians hailing from northern Spain were garrisoned at Chesters and would remain at the fort until the end of the Roman period. They would have witnessed the site’s heyday between 180-250 AD, when the fort and its surrounding civilian settlement would have been a bustling hub of activity. It was also then that the fort was rebuilt, and from which the current remains of the barracks date.
Chesters Roman Fort today
Today, Chesters Roman Fort is managed by English Heritage and is open to visitors. The extensive and well-preserved remains include four main gates, an altar and shrine, and several buildings such as a baths complex and the commandant’s home.
As the most complete cavalry fort in Britain, Chesters Roman Fort offers an illuminating glimpse into the lives of the soldiers who lived here and the northernmost reaches of the Roman Empire.
Within the site’s adjoining museum, there is also a large display of Roman artefacts found at the site and along Hadrian’s Wall. Highlights of these include two carved incense burners, a figurine of a ‘scotty dog’, a centurial building stone, and a statue of the Roman goddess Juno, all dated around 2,000 years old.
Getting to Chesters Roman Fort
Chesters Roman Fort is located near Chollerford in Northumberland on the B6318 road, and there is parking at the site. The nearest train station is 5.5 miles away at Hexham, from which the AD122 Hadrian’s Wall bus may be taken to the site between April and October. The 680 Tynedale Links bus service also stops at the Recreation ground, a 10-minute walk to the site.