Chester has come a very long way from a small Roman settlement to what it is today. This medieval town dates back more than two thousand years ago covering different periods of British history. The city was initially a fort founded by the Romans in AD 79 and called Deva Victrix. This was also the location where so many battles were fought between the Saxon and Welsh tribes after the Romans left Chester and the rest of Britain.

After the 1066 Norman Conquest, Deva became Chester and came under the influence of the Earl of Chester. The fort then became a fortress to repel Welsh raiders launching raids from their bases in Ireland.

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Chester began to grow as a commercial town with a trading port and this continued until Liverpool Port overtook it. Contrary to the expectations of many, this development did not lead to the decline of Chester as a trading outpost, rather it thrived as people looking to escape the highly commercial regions of Manchester and Liverpool came to the area.

Roman Times

The first spot in Chester that the Romans settled in was in Celtic Cornovil according to the account of a cartographer by the name of Ptolemy. From there they expanded to the North. It was called Deva probably in obeisance to the goddess of Dee or after the river in the area with the same name. The Victrix joiner was taken from the legion, Legio XX Valeria Victrix based in Deva at the time. As time went on, the site began to attract civilian settlers who came from different parts of the region and outside the region.

Deva Victrix was bigger than many of the other settlements built by the Romans and many have even speculated that they had planned to make it the capital of the island, not London. As time progressed, an amphitheatre with a strong capacity of between 8,000-10,000 sitting capacity was built among other structures.

The Withdrawal

When the Romans decided that their stay in Britain was no longer tenable, they pulled out of the fortress and Britain in general in 410 AD. This move led to the establishment of successive states by the Britons. On its part, the fortress was taken over by the settlers left behind by the Romans who continued to rely on it to repel attacks coming from the raiders from the North and the Irish Sea.

One of the new kingdoms formed by the Britons in Chester was Powys and their kings were descendants of Vortigern. During the post Roman era, King Arthur was also said to have fought his 9th battle against the Saxonian tribes at the city of legions. The area witnessed many battles after that one of which was the one waged by St Augustine when he attempted to subjugate the Welsh Bishops when he visited Britain.

Today, Chester is a tourist city centre with a rich history of Roman and post-Roman sites all traced back to the Roman occupation of Britain.

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