This is my last post about Hadrian’s Wall, when I blog about our visit to Chesters Roman Fort. Chesters is managed by English Heritage, the entry fee is £6.20. It’s worth getting a membership if you plan to visit a few attractions.
This is how the fort would have looked like almost 2000 years ago.
The fort was discovered by John Clayton. He was a wealthy landowner and scholar and he was the one starting the excavations at Chesters in 1840s and spent 50 years conserving Hadrian’s Wall. After his death, a museum was opened to display his finds.
One of the rooms in the museum shows many columns, arches, jewellery. In the second room there are tools, very similar to the ones we use today.
The arch depicts Mars, the god of war.
Is unknown why this figurine of the small dog was made, it might be for decor. The dog that resemblance a Scottish Terrier could have been a lap dog or he might have been use to chase rats. I talked about this on another post about Hadrian’s wall.
This is the north gate.
The barracks are very well preserved. At Chesters a cavalry regiment was stationed. Around 500 soldiers and their horses would have stayed there. A troop of 32 men would have lived in each barrack. Three soldiers lived in a compartment, at the end and the horses would have been in front. The horses were very valuable, one worth a fifth of a soldier’s yearly pay.
The bathhouse was huge. Bathing was an important part of the Roman life. The routine was elaborated and they required many rooms with individual uses. Only the wealthy would have their own baths, but the forts had baths so the soldiers would be able to bathe. Civilians outside the fort were allowed in the bathhouse and bathing would allow the soldiers to interact with them.
The bathhouse was discovered by accident and it’s one of the best preserved bathhouses in Britain. The bathing ritual would have started at the Changing Hall. There they would change and they would exercise. There were also vendors that were providing food, drinks and some grooming services.
There is a hot bath, a hot fountain, hot steam room, warm room, a cold room, cold bath, hot dry room. The bathers would use the rooms alternatively and they could do that again. It looks very similar to a modern SPA, so many options, time to exercise, to use oils and so on.
This is the house where the commander and his family would have lived. It would have had a courtyard, a bath and luxuries.
The fort had a hall for important assemblies and ceremonies. It was where orders were given and religious ceremonies would take place.
Civilian houses were built near the forts. The civilians would have provided services to the soldiers.
The views were stunning too.
Many more things are still to be discovered at Chesters and along Hadrian’s Wall. It’s fascinating and how much John Clayton helped preserved the Roman history. At the time of his death he had 5 forts and almost 20 miles of wall. He was hard working and managed to develop his family’s wealth to reach more than 40 million pounds in today’s money.
When a property that had a part of the wall on it was on sale, he would buy it. He also stopped quarrying near to the wall, he forbade the use of the Roman stones for the new buildings. Buildings were moved away from the archaeology.