Roman Chesterton

Roman Weekend 2008
Roman Weekend 2008

The Romans invaded Britain in AD43 with an invasion force of four legions (about 24,000 men) as well as a large number of auxiliary troops. In three years they had conquered most of the south and east of Britain; forming a border roughly from the mouth of the Humber River to Lyme Bay. From there they quickly moved to conquer the lands of the Cornovii, which included Staffordshire.

To support the expanding Roman Empire, a network of roads was constructed and forts placed at intervals of a days march were built along them. In Chesterton such a fort was built late in the first century and was probably occupied until the third century. It was situated on the Mount Pleasant hill, where Chesterton High School (now Chesterton Community Sports College) stands, and was rectangular in shape, as was typical for a Roman fort. In 1969 excavations revealed that it consisted of a 6 metre (20ft) wide rampart surrounded by two ditches and covered an area of almost 20 acres.

The fort stood astride a Roman road which ran from Derventio (Little Chester, near Derby) via Rocester. Excavations locally have revealed a sandstone-paved section of the road in the grounds of Wolstanton High School. Further evidence shows that the road crossed Wolstanton Golf course and entered Chesterton, close to the junction between London Road and the A34. The road then continued on towards Middlewich, although the exact route that it took out of Chesterton is currently uncertain.

At nearby Holditch, archaeological excavations have revealed evidence of a flourishing town, where Roman and Romano-British people were working ironstone and using coal as early as the second century. During the dig, a large stone building with a courtyard was also discovered. It is thought to have been a public building such as a basilica or a mansio. Stones from a wall of this building can be seen in the museum (pictured below).

In addition to the fort and town, traces of a rectangular enclosure has been found at the end of Loomer Road. It is thought to be a Roman temporary camp and theories for its purpose include a marching camp or a camp for construction workers.

In our museum we have a display covering the Roman Activity at Chesterton, pictures below are some of the items in our collection…