Chester Walls - Discover the Roman and Medieval Walls, by Gordon Emery

Chester Walls - Discover the Roman and Medieval Walls, by Gordon Emery

Published privately by the author, 24 pages. A5 size booklet (N7967)

This booklet provides a fascinating short history and guide to Chester's Town walls, and it's illustrated throughout with several small black and white drawings.

From the introduction: The original walls at Chester were made of turf built in about 75AD by the Roman 11 Legion at their fortress Deva. In around 102 AD the XX Legion rebuilt the fortress walls in stone. The best remaining section of Roman wall under No.1 City Walls can best be seen as a slightly bulging 13 courses of sandstone masonry looking east and upwards from the Northgate Bridge.

The walls were repaired again by the XX Legion a century or so later. The soldiers used old gravestones in its reconstruction. Up to 150 inscriptions, tombstones and sculptures were found built into the North Wall during the 19th century. Many are displayed at the award-winning Graham Webster Gallery at the Grosvenor Museum. Originally, they were painted in bright colours and would have lined the roads leading to the fortress.

In the tenth century, under Anglo-Saxon rule, Alfred's daughter Queen Aethelfleda probably extended the north wall to the river in the west, and the west wall to the river in the south, creating a walled town or 'burh' with a protected area four times the size of the former Roman fort. The remaining Roman fort walls on the south and west were removed or left to collapse. In Saxon and Norman times the walls were repaired by 'murengers' sent by the manorial lords of Cheshire. Walls and gates were built alongside the river by 1120.

The walls were fortified again in the Civil War to protect King Charles I's supporters inside the city against the Parliamentary forces attacking. Chester was the last city to hold out for the king, its citizens suffering hardship and starvation before surrendering.

In Georgian times the walls became a fashionable walkway around the city, completed with the construction of the Wishing Steps in 1785. The main city gates were removed to allow access for coaches and were replaced by grand archways. In the 1830s, a section of wall was knocked down when an access road was built to the new Grosvenor Bridge. Another section was removed and bridged over for the railway in 1845. When Castle Drive was built alongside the river a short section of wall was removed and the old Shipgate was moved to Grosvenor Park, then, with the increased use of the motor car, an inner ring road was driven through the north wall in the 1960s. Today visitors can still walk around the unique and almost complete wall around the city.

The condition of the booklet is generally very good. The covers are clean and bright, the staple spine is intact, and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound.