Please note: We are not repsonsible for any content after clicking the "Next Blog" link, this links to another completely random Blog

Chester Amphitheatre Project Blog


Welcome to the official Blog of the Chester Amphitheatre Project.

Thursday, August 24

Exploring the Amphitheatre ...

Members of Chester City Council's Explorers' Club had a great time working alongside professional archaeologists where they learnt the basic principles of trowelling, planning and surveying. And when the rain fell for a brief time they had an opportunity to look at and handle some of the finds from the past couple of seasons and learn about the environmental work that is carried out on site. Their interest and enthusiasm showed us that there are definitely some budding future archaeologists amongst them.

Rebecca and Kayleigh being shown how to plan by Mike, the City Archaeologist;
Gill showing Rebecca and Elisha the correct way to trowel;
Kayleigh, Rebecca and Lewis cleaning the old ground surface in Area A

Julie showing George how to use a site level;
Lewis checks out a possible find in Area A;
Luke and Tim trowelling part of the old ground surface with David assisting

Jane supervising George and Alexander trowelling;
Mike explaining the principles of planning to Rebecca, Elisha and Kay;
George and Alexander are first on the scene with Jane and Julie at the discovery
of a piece of possible Iron-Age metal work by Dan, Site Director

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 16:45


1 comments - add yours

Where are the cord-riggs and what do they look like?

The latest comment on the BLOG was as follows ...

Q: "Any chance of a picture of the Chester cord-rigg? I looked at where I thought they might be on a recent visit, but couldn't see anything ..."

A: I hope these images are of help. I have identified the location of the cord-riggs on the aerial shot and highlighted their profile on the general site shot.

Also ...

Q: "How far apart are the ridges?"

A: Cord-riggs usually comprise of a series of narrow ridges less than a metre apart, formed as the result of cultivation and it is generally considered to date to the late pre-Roman Iron Age.

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 12:22


2 comments - add yours

Thursday, August 17

Travel through time at Chester Amphitheatre ...

From prehistory to the present day
23 August 11:00am - 4:30pm

You will get the opportunity to see the excavation and environmental analysis in progress, talk to the archaeologists & join a guided tour. There will also be the chance to see the finds from the last three seasons of excavation.

The Amphitheatre itself will once again be brought to life by a Roman encampment. There will also be Roman cookery, Roman surveying and flint knapping demonstrations ...

Free admission
Chester Roman Amphitheatre
Vicar's Lane
For further information:
T: 01244 402009

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 11:33


2 comments - add yours

Tuesday, August 15

Recent Find: Iron Age pottery: Cheshire VCP

Iron Age pottery has been recovered from the pre-Roman cultivation soils beneath the earliest phase of the Roman amphitheatre in the area between the concentric wall and the arena wall. It is part of the rim of a salt container. This late prehistoric pottery is a type found in the north west of England and known as Cheshire VCP which is an abbreviation for Very Coarse Pottery. It has also been found in North Wales and the northern and central Welsh Marches area and dates from approximately 500 BC to the middle of the first century AD.

Salt production has been a way of life in Cheshire since the Iron Age and these vessels served as crude containers for the final drying and transportation of salt from brine spring sources to settlements in the area. The distribution of salt suggests an extensive exchange network in the second half of the first millennium BC across North Wales, north west England and northern Midlands.

The salt was used for preservation such as salting meat, for making cheese and preserving hides. The pots are handmade, generally orange in colour and fired at a low temperature. They are described as ‘coarse’ because within the clay there are pieces of quartz and rock. Unfortunately we don’t know exactly where the vessels were made but scientific analysis of the clays suggest they were manufactured in the Nantwich – Middlewich area.

The small bases and flaring conical rims make them suitable as evaporation containers for drying out the salt. There are no soot or food deposits found on them as would be expected on cooking pots and jars – a shape suited to reducing evaporation during cooking and usually grey, black or brown in colour.

Although we have several fragments of this type of pottery from excavations in Cheshire and Merseyside, this is a significant find in Chester.

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 13:49


1 comments - add yours

Thursday, August 10

The Latest News from the Trench ...

Over the last couple of days we have finally removed the remains of the seating bank deposits to amphitheatre 1A, and have now exposed the pre-Roman ground surface over nearly the entire excavation trench. This has allowed us to see what sort of evidence has survived on the site from the period immediately before the Romans began to build the first amphitheatre at Chester. The find of the footprints in the south-western corner of the excavation has already been mentioned, and very close to these were a line of timber post-settings which might indicate a fence line associated with a stock enclosure.

However, at the northern end of the trench we have now uncovered a series of narrow, parallel ridges that clearly pre-date the outer wall of the first amphitheatre. This type of earthwork is known as ‘cord rigg’ and has been identified on upland areas like the Cheviots of Northumberland and on excavations beneath Roman forts on Hadrian’s Wall. It usually comprises a series of narrow ridges less than a metre apart, formed as the result of cultivation and it is generally considered to date to the late pre-Roman Iron Age. So we are getting an emerging picture of a pre-Roman arable agricultural regime with an associated field system that has hitherto been very elusive in the Chester area.

An article by Tim Gates in British Archaeology issue no. 49, for November 1999 offered the following observations on the dating of cord rigg:

Patches of ‘cord rigg’ have been identified at more than 70 different locations within the survey territory around Hadrian's Wall, and the size of separate plots can be anything from that of a small allotment to something larger than a football pitch. Its date has been suggested by a number of instances where late Iron Age or Roman period contexts have been established by excavation or field survey. For example, narrow-ridged soil surfaces have been found beneath the Hadrianic levels of several forts along the Wall. At Denton, west of Newcastle, a field of cord rigg was found to have been under cultivation right up to the point where the land was appropriated by the Roman army in order to build the Vallum in about AD130.

Since this form of cultivation seems to have required nothing very sophisticated in the way of tools, it would be no surprise if it proved to have a long prehistoric ancestry. Certainly, a strong case exists for its widespread use by native farmers in the later Iron Age and Roman periods not only in Northumberland but also in parts of southern Scotland. The evidence derives largely from air photographs which record many instances of cord rigg close to stone-built settlements similar to the ones described above.

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 14:35


2 comments - add yours

Wednesday, August 9

Results from the 3D Laser Scan of the Roman Footprints

As you know the excavation has recently revealed deposits associated with the building of the first amphitheatre and the impressions of footprints pressed in to the pre-Roman ground surface. We commissioned Birmingham Archaeology to undertake a 3D laserscan of these footprints to make a permanent record and as promised here are the results.

The scanner produced a 3D 'point-cloud' showing the shape of the footprints and a full colour 'texture-map' of the surface. The footprints show that a child or small adult walked barefoot across the site before the amphitheatre was built.

Images: Paul Burrows, Birmingham Archaeology / HP VISTA

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 13:08


2 comments - add yours

Friday, August 4

Cutting Edge Technology ...

is being employed to create a permanent record of the 'footprints'. We have commissioned Birmingham University (the HP Vista Technology centre) to record the foot-prints using a Leica HDS 3500 Laser Scanner - this has taken measurements at 0.5cm intervals to give intricate detail in order to make 3-dimensional rotational models, and from which resin casts can be made in the future. Images were also recorded from the surrounding area including some of the amphitheatre masonry in order to provide a context for the record of the footprints. Thanks again to Paul for all his hard work!

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 16:41


1 comments - add yours

THE International Conference on the Roman Amphitheatre 2007

An international conference on the Roman Amphitheatre will be held at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester from the 16th to the 18th of February 2007, with a wide range of speakers from across the territory of the Roman Empire.

The conference will open with a public lecture by Professor Kathleen Coleman (Harvard College Professor and Professor of Latin, Harvard University.)

We will post more information on the Blog as it becomes available ...

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 10:47


1 comments - add yours

Tuesday, August 1

M&S Money Join Forces with the Archaeologists to Unearth Chester's History

M&S Money staff offered their services to help the archaeologists working on Chester’s Amphitheatre excavation, as a key part of their company’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme.

Several M&S Money employees assisted the professional archaeologists in excavating and recording areas of the site in order to find out more information about its fascinating Roman and pre-historical past.

Community Archaeological Officer, Jane Hebblewhite said “The work we do is on behalf of the community. This is everyone’s archaeology. Working with another major contributor to local life has been a rewarding experience for everyone involved and ultimately to the community whose past we’re entrusted to investigate. The interest and enthusiasm that M&S Money staff have shown when working with us has been very much appreciated”.

M&S Money Manager, Fiona Gallagher said “the team and I wanted to get involved with something that would enable us to give something back to Chester as well as giving us a chance to work as a team in a different environment. All of this we achieved as well as getting a better understanding and appreciation for archaeology and the Chester Amphitheatre.

Left to right: M&S Money Programme Office Team - Hazel Williams, Fiona Gallagher, Helen Sturmer, Tryfan Prosser, Jeanette O'Brien and Kelly Wright, and Chester City Council's Community Archaeological Officer - Jane Hebblewhite (right foreground)

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 16:46


0 comments - add yours

More Finds from the Pit

This coprolite was recovered from a rubbish pit that was just outside the first amphitheatre in the late 1st or early 2nd century AD. A preliminary examination under the microscope has confirmed that the coprolite contains many small fragments of bone. The presence of these fragments and the size and the general shape (both blunt and "tailed" ends survive) show it to be from a carnivore, almost certainly a dog. Thus it appears probable that a dog defecated here, possibly after scavenging on the numerous bones thrown into the pit.

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 14:08


1 comments - add yours