Chester Roman Amphitheatre
The largest Roman amphitheatre in Britain, used for entertainment and military training by the 20th Legion, based at the fortress of 'Deva' (Chester). The ruins currently exposed are those of a large stone amphitheatre, similar to those found in Continental Europe, although a smaller wooden amphitheatre may have existed on the site before. Only the northern half of the structure is exposed; the southern half is covered by buildings.
It is said to be the largest so far uncovered in Britain, and dates from the first century CE, when the Roman fort of Deva Victrix was founded, making it around 2000 years old. It would have been primarily used for military training and drill, but would also possibly for circuses, cock fighting, bull baiting and combat sports such as gladiatorial combat. In use through much of the Roman occupation of Britain, the amphitheatre fell into disuse around the year 350.
No-one knew that Chester had an amphitheatre until it was discovered in 1929, when one of the curved walls appeared while an underground boiler room was being built onto the south side of Dee House. During the early 1930's parts of the western entrance, outer wall and arena walls where then found. It is located outside the south-east corner of the legionary fortress, it's main entrances face east and west. Between each of these entrances were two doorways giving access to a corridor which ran around the outside of the building with staircases running up to the seats above.
Latest excavations by English Heritage and Chester City Council in 2004-5 revealed two successive stone-built amphitheatres with wooden seating. The first included access to the upper tiers of seats via stairs on the rear wall, as at Pompeii, and had a small shrine next to its north entrance. The second provided seat access via vaulted stairways. The two buildings differed both from each other and from all other British amphitheatres, underlining the importance of Roman Chester.
As well as taking photographs within the site you could also take a photo of it from up on the City Walls.
It is managed by English Heritage although access if free to everyone.
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