1 day

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Chester (Deva Victrix) was one of the three permanent legionary fortresses of Roman Britain. Home to the 20th Legion, or Valeria Victrix, for around two centuries, it was founded in the early AD 70s. Inscriptions reveal that at least some of the primary buildings were built under the governor Agricola, celebrated by his son in law, the Roman historian Tacitus.

As one of the largest legionary fortresses in the Roman Empire, Deva Victrix is characterised by unique and anomalous buildings. Archaeologists still puzzle over whether these could have been built with rather a greater intended status in mind...

The site of Chester guarded the access across the river Dee into north Wales in a strategic position that separated the potentially troublesome people of north Wales from those of northern England. The city remained a military base for the entire period of Roman occupation of Britain. The Dee was navigable up to Chester, making the site the principal Roman port of the Irish sea coast. However, as the Dee silted up, it became eclipsed by the rise of the deep water port of Liverpool.

Outside the fortress a civilian settlement sprang up, and in around AD 100, an amphitheatre was built as part of the original conception. This grew to be the most elaborate and largest amphitheatre in the province, with a capacity of up to 7,000. Half of it is still standing, allowing us to view north and east entrances.

Tour highlights:

  • Behind the scenes at the Museum with Jane Hebblewhite Senior Heritage Officer
  • Guided tour by Tony Wilmott who dug at the Amphitheatre in Chester

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Meet your Experts

Tony Wilmott

Andante Guide Lecturer

Tony Wilmott specialises in the Roman and Late Antique periods, with particular interests in the Roman military and frontiers, in Roman religion, and also in the late and post-Roman transition.

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Roman theater in Chester
Tour dates & prices
Tour Departure Tour ID Departure date Guided by Price Availability
10 August 2023 AXCH230810 10 August 2023 (Thursday) Tony Wilmott £160
(ex. flights)
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