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Chesters
Fort and Museum

The Roman fort of Cilurnum, today's Chesters, was one of the more central strongholds guarding Hadrian's Wall.

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Right after the entrance you come upon a traditional, little museum. No new-fangled plastic exhibits, but a charming little building with old-fashioned glass vitrines displaying some of the finds made on and around the site over time.
It includes a haul of coins, on which those familiar with the emperors will recognise some of the portraits.

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Left: Entering the site of the fort itself it is the north gate you come upon first.
Right: The lower stone walls of the barracks are still nicely preserved.

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The commander's residence, the praetorium, is still well preserved, too. And the remaining hypocaust (under-floor-heating) proves that also at Chesters a fort commander would live in comfort.

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The eastern gate leads down to the river, across which a bridge carried the road eastwards.
Yet for more private purposes than transport and trade, there was a smaller gate set into the wall a little further south.

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The nature of these more private purposes is soon revealed, when on the slope towards the river one finds the grand bathhouse. As you can tell by comparing the height of the people on the picture to that of the walls, the bathhouse is truly still in excellent condition.
Another practical insight into the bathhouse is the well preserved 'stoke-hole', where the maintainance of the fire which heated the water and warmed the floors.

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On the left: The hot bath, caldarium, of the bath house.
On the right: This is assumed to be the apodyterium, where the soldiers would undress. The niches one thinks would be the places where they would then place their belongings.

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Back at the fort, the walls were further fortified by towers, one of which you see here on the left.
On the right: The fort's south gate.

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On the left: No fort would ever be complete without a principia, it's headquarters building.
On the right: A little north of the principia you then find the west gate.

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In the museum a model gives an impression of what the site once would have looked like.

When compared to a site like Vindolanda there is much fewer buildings at Chesters. However, those which are there are substantial and hence very impressive.
The little museum is delightful and I can indeed recommend the site for any of you who might wish to go and see for yourselves. It is well worth a visit.

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