History of Cheshire: The Romans

The rich history of Cheshire exists in a broad range of archaeological monuments, infrastructure projects and, of course, historical houses. Cheshire’s most important historical locations and ancient monuments bear testimony to the rich history that the county enjoys. Following the expansion of the Celtic Cornovii over Cheshire during the Iron Age, the Romans arrived in 48 AD. From the defeat of the Cornovii at the hands of the Romans until the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, the Romans contributed greatly to Cheshire’s architectural history. In previous posts we’ve covered some of the Romans’ greatest contributions, such as the Chester Roman Amphitheatre and the Roman Gardens.

Key Dates of the Roman Occupation of Cheshire

55 BC to 54 BC: Julius Caesar invaded southern Britain after a successful conquest of Western Europe. Local treaties were made with the rulers of kingdoms in the southern British kingdoms, as trade flourished between Britain and the Roman Empire.

43 AD to 47 AD: After a lack of Roman interest in conquering and ruling British territories, emperor Claudius marched 40,000 to south-eastern Britain to wrestle control from local rulers. The conquest of Wales and Cheshire followed shortly thereafter.

79 AD to 105 AD: After successful campaigns in the north of England, the Romans first arrived in Cheshire in early 70s AD. By 79 AD they had built one of their three permanent fortresses in Britain in Chester. Known as the Deva Victrix, the Chester fort hosted the 2nd Legion Adiutrix, which consisted of around 5,000 to 6,000 troops.

105 AD to 410 AD: The 2nd Legion Adiutrix was eventually replaced by the 20th Legion, which remained garrisoned at Chester for around three hundred years. This period in the Roman history of Cheshire witnessed considerable expansion as the local indigenous inhabitants found shelter in communities around the Roman military strongholds. Retired Roman veterans were housed in towns called coloniae, after completing twenty-five years’ military service.