Select Page

The Chester Roman Amphitheatre, which is located in Chester, Cheshire is a large, historic stone amphitheatre that’s being managed by English Heritage. English Heritage cares for more than 400 historic sites, monuments and buildings to preserve history for more than 10 million visitors every year.

The Chester Amphitheatre is the biggest in Britain. Back in the 1st century, it was used for military training and other activities such as combat sports and bull baiting. Due to ageing over time, only half of the northern side of the structure is visible. The southern side has buildings over it, some of which are listed.

In the 1960s, excavation work had suggested that the amphitheatre was made of wood. However, further investigations showed that it was made of stone. The structure that visitors from across the country including Fiyaz Mughal get to view has an outer wall that is more than 2 metres thick and marked by concrete slabs. Inside the structure was a corridor that linked the entrances used by spectators to access the stairways to the seating area.


The first amphitheatre was a simple structure built by the Second Legion when they briefly occupied Chester in the 70s. It was rebuilt by the Twentieth Legion around 275 AD when the Legion returned after constructing Hadrian’s Wall. The structure could seat 8,000 people and around it was a complex of food stands, dungeons and stables built to support the various contests. Historians have long speculated that based on the size of the amphitheatre, Chester could have worked as the Roman Capital.

When the Romans departed Britain, the Chester Amphitheatre fell into disuse, with the stones removed to leave only the site’s centre visible, with the area becoming a dumpsite. Later, a housing complex (Dee House) was constructed on the south side, with another (St. John’s House) constructed on the north end.

For years, the amphitheatre’s existence had been speculated, but the evidence wasn’t uncovered until 1929 when a curved wall was found during gardening work at Dee House. This led to the revelation that much of the structure underneath the ground was, to a great extent, intact. However, this location also had buildings over it and was part of the plan for a new road.

Regardless, the Chester Archaeological Society raised funds to enable excavation. The start of the Second World War delayed the work, and it wasn’t until 1957 that work resumed. Initially, only a small area was dug up. In 2000, archaeological work continued, leading to the discovery of a few interesting features, including the remains of earlier amphitheatres, a Roman building, pots and cooked animal bones.

It wasn’t until early 2004 that English Heritage and Chester City Council came together to launch the Chester Amphitheatre Project. The collaboration aimed to enable the survey and excavation of the site. This project also brought the building of a research centre and Chester amphitheatre, while also becoming the host site for an international conference in February 2007.

English Heritage

English Heritage has taken on the work of protecting a collection of historical artefacts and sites that have been in existence for millennia. Some of these include castles, palaces, Roman forts, medieval villages and hill figures, among many others. Taking care of these places (and the collections within them) is something English Heritage takes pride in and has attracted the support of numerous donors.

English Heritage’s status as an independent charity allows it to engage with millions of people, creating unique and inspiring visitor experiences for those that want to learn about England’s past.