The Roman Amphitheatre of Chester Volume 1: The Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology

16 March 2018

Archeologists undertook a major excavation of Chester’s Roman Amphitheatre from 2004 to 2006. 'The Roman Amphitheatre of Chester Volume 1: The Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology' was launched this week at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum revealing the research findings from the excavations that were funded and managed by Historic England (then English Heritage) and the former Chester City Council.

The excavations revolutionised the understanding of the scale and grandeur of these buildings, and of the activities that took place in the arena and around the amphitheatre. 

In addition to receiving interest from residents and visitors to Chester at the time, the excavations attracted national and international attention. BBC Timewatch featured the excavation in the programme ‘Britain’s Lost Colosseum’.  

Tony Willmot, Senior Archaeologist with Historic England and Dan Garner (formerly of Chester City Council),are the authors of this first volume. Dan was co-director of the Chester Amphitheatre project. Tony was voted Current Archaeology’s ‘Archaeologist of the Year’ in 2012.

Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member Communities and Wellbeing said at the launch: “The project provided a fantastic opportunity for local volunteers and the wider community to get involved, they were able to gain experience of working on site and in finds processing, whether experienced or new to archaeology.

“The vast and complex task of analysing what was discovered over the course of those excavations has been carried out by Historic England, by our skilled and hugely knowledgeable archaeologists from Cheshire West and Chester Council and by specialists across the UK.
“This has all come together in this fantastic volume, which is a landmark moment for Chester, not only is it the definitive publication on the largest amphitheatre in Britain but it also puts prehistoric Chester on the map.” 

The book describes the elaborate structure of the amphitheatre and includes some amazing reconstructions of how it almost certainly looked. It also provides a fascinating study of early Roman occupation of Chester, and tells the story of the site from the around 6,000 BC to the end of the life of the Roman amphitheatre.

The Roman Amphitheatre of Chester Volume 1: The Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology' is available from the Grosvenor Museum and from Oxbow Books (

L-R Tony Wilmott (Historic England); Cllr. Louise Gittins ; Dan Garner
L-R Tony Wilmott (Historic England); Cllr. Louise Gittins ; Dan Garner 

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