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Chester Amphitheatre Project Blog


Welcome to the official Blog of the Chester Amphitheatre Project.

Tuesday, May 29

Grosvenor Park: Latest Discovery: Roman Brooch

A Roman brooch in the shape of a sandal or shoe sole, decorated with blue enamel. Originally there was a loop at the 'heel' end of the brooch to which a fine chain was attached so that two brooches could be worn, linked together. The pointed toe may reflect a short-term fashion in footwear. Second century.

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 17:01


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Monday, May 21

Grosvenor Park: The latest news from Trench II ...

Trench II in the Grosvenor Park, Chester, has already produced over thirty musket balls and we think that this can be tied into the following event recorded in 1641 - a year before the outbreak of the Civil War.

Photograph: Civil-War musket balls that were recoverd from Trench B at the Chester Amphitheatre excavation in 2006

'A bloody conspiracy of the Papists in Cheshire, intended for the destruction of the whole County.'

There was an order made by Parliament, that all Papists throughout England should be disarmed. The mayor of Chester ordered the 'Trained Bands' (the local militia) that those Papists who would not agree to this order should have their houses searched, and that if resistance was met "to shoot down their house about their ears"; which was to be done the very next day (20th November 1641). The Papists, hearing of this, gathered at Lord Cholmondeley's Mansion and in the night time 15 of them "in arms" set about "battering down the city walls". This made a "very great noise" which drew the attention of the City Watch who were "very much amazed". However, as the watch were mostly made up of old men, they retreated to the City gate and cried out "Treason, Treason, against the City". The Trained Bands were roused and chased 13 of the traitors to Lord Cholmondeley's House, where they were captured having been denied entrance by the Porter of the gate-house.

Having been denied entrance to Cholmondeley's House 10 of the Trained Band fired their muskets and battered down part of the house, which caused Lord Cholmondeley to make an escape via a back-door across the fields (now Grosvenor Park). The Trained Band then came upon 50 Papists with "muskets at the ready" , and as soon as the Papists saw the Band they fired killing 25, before retreating through a back door; where they ran in to the rest of the Band, and a "bloody skirmish ensued". Eventually the Papists "trusted to the swiftness of their feet" (they decided to make a run for it) but "the bullets made great haste after them" and 19 were killed, including their leader a Mr Henry Starkey. They were subsequently "buried in the highway together".

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 14:03


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Grosvenor Park Dig 2007

Chester Archaeology Service will be digging in Grosvenor Park, Chester, between the 14th May and the 6th July 2007.

Several trenches will be dug on the western side of the park in order to answer a number of questions. The main aim is to locate the remains of a large town-house known as Cholmondeley's Mansion which was demolished when the park was laid out in 1867. It is thought that the house sat on the site of earlier medieval buildings attached to the church of St. John.

Cholmondeley's Mansion with St. John's Church to the rear. John McGahey, 1852

We also want to find out what was there in Roman times. A specific target will be a large ditch which was found during the building of the Union Street swimming baths in 1899, and again more recently in 1994. The more recent work also uncovered a complete adult human skeleton buried in the top of the ditch and we will be studying these remains to discover the date, age and sex of the person over the coming weeks.

As well as tackling these questions, the dig is being used as a training project for archaeology students at Chester University, and will also be open to volunteers.

The work supports both a Conservation Management Plan for the park and an application by Chester City Council under the Heritage Lottery Fund 'Parks for People' programme, due to be submitted in March 2008.

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 10:33


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Friday, May 18

Chester Amphitheatre Project 2007 ...

Chester Amphitheatre Project is an important part of Chester Renaissance - the plan to establish Chester as a must-see European city.

At its hub is the 2000 year old Roman Amphitheatre; the current focus of a major archaeological investigation by Chester City Council and English Heritage. So far this has involved three successful years of excavation (2004-2006) and a landscape assessment exploring links between the Amphitheatre and other parts of the Amphitheatre Park, including St John's Church, the riverside and city walls.

Although no Amphitheatre excavations are happening at present there is much activity taking place behind the scenes. Archaeologists are busily occupied in detailed post- excavation work; examining the many exciting finds and artefacts from the last few years. You can see some of these at the Chester Visitor Centre (Vicar's Lane, Chester) or at the Grosvenor Museum (27, Grosvenor Street, Chester.)

The results of the archaeological investigations were the subject of major public consultations in 2006 to help shape plans for protecting and interpreting the long term future of the Amphitheatre. The City Council and English Heritage are working closely to develop a viable and sensitive scheme that not only tells the Amphitheatre's unique story but preserves its legacy for generations to come.

In the meantime you can see archaeologists at work in Grosvenor Park and enjoy a series of events in the Amphitheatre:

Living History Events 2007

The DEVA VICTRIX Roman Military Display Team

Experience the Roman heritage of Chester and Britain during the first century AD as a unit of Roman legionnaires march through Chester and camp at the amphitheatre. You will discover soldiers, civilians and even gladiators, brought to you by Roman Tours Ltd.

Venue: City Centre & Chester Amphitheatre
June 10 & 30
July 1, 14, 15, & 21
August 19
September 9
10:00am - 4:00pm (except September 11:00 - 4:00)

National Archaeology Days 2007:
Come and celebrate National Archaeology Week at the amphitheatre which will be brought to life by some spectacular Roman gladiatorial combat and military display. There will be an opportunity to talk to the archaeologists about discoveries at the amphitheatre, have your finds identified and take part in a number of hands-on activities.

July 14 & 15
10:30 - 4:00pm


posted by Cheryl Quinn at 14:20


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