Address: Chester, Cheshire
Opening hours: The site can be viewed for free and at any reasonable time. The schedule for viewing after March 28, 2013 is yet to be announced, though.
Chester Amphitheatre is located in Chester, Cheshire. It is a Roman amphitheatre now being managed by English Heritage. It has been given a Grade 1 as a listed building and is considered to be a scheduled monument.
Today, what you will see on your visit is a huge stone amphitheatre, which looks similar to those that are in Continental Europe. It does look as if there was a wooden and smaller version of an amphitheatre standing on the site before. You can now only see the northern part of the structure because the other half has been covered by other buildings. These other buildings cannot simply be removed as they are mostly listed as well.
So far, the Chester amphitheatre is the largest of its kind dug up in Britain. The amphitheatre may have been built for military drilling and training. However, there are other possible roles such as a place for bull baiting, cock fighting, wrestling and other combat sports. The amphitheatre was used when Britain was occupied by the Romans. By the year 350, it was no longer used as much and was only uncovered in 1929 while construction was being done in the site.
The first amphitheatre may have built as a simple structure by Legio II Adiutrix during the 70s. Rebuilding may have been done in 86 and in 275, as well.
Understandably, the amphitheatre had fallen into dereliction after the Romans had left it. Through the centuries, it had been filled in due to refuse and erosion. Listed buildings, such as a Victorian convent, had been built over the amphitheatre’s south end. On the north end, a Georgian townhouse was built. While all historical records about the place had been lost, the amphitheatre was still fortunate because the filled-in site was uneven and roads could not have been properly paved on it. When the site was rediscovered, the subsequent digs had been slow and had even been affected by the Second World War.
The Chester Amphitheatre deserves being maintained by English Heritage. It is, after all, not just a site that was being managed for centuries but one that was forgotten and now rediscovered. It was able to survive centuries and had been fortunate enough to still have remains as of today. The site can be viewed for free and at any reasonable time. The schedule for viewing after March 28, 2013 is yet to be announced, though.