The geography and history of Roman Cheshire has long been unknown. The Roman occupation of Cheshire is often where the history books start their descriptions of the history of Cheshire. It all started in 48 AD when the Romans arrived in the lands of the Cornovii and defeated them at a battle at The Wreken. This was the start of a significant time in the history of Cheshire.
Just twenty years after the Romans won the battle at The Wreken, they founded the fortress and town of Deva Victrix; this is now Chester. The fortress of Deva Victrix, now modern-day Cheshire, was 20 per cent larger than other fortresses in Britannia built around the same time. This includes the fortresses in York (Eboracum) and Caerleon (Isca Augusta). This has led to the suggestion that the fortress in Cheshire, rather than London (Londinium), was intended to become the capital of the Roman province in Britannia Superior. This just demonstrates the historical importance of Cheshire.
Roman Settlements in Cheshire
The Romans built many historical settlements besides the fortress. The civilian amphitheatre was one of them. It was built in the 1st century and could seat 8,000 to 10,000 people. It remains the largest known military amphitheatre in Britain.
The Romans also developed settlements in Condate (Northwich) and Salinae (Middlewich). These settlements near Cheshire were very important to the Roman’s due to the salt mines. Until at least the late 4th century, Chester was garrisoned by the legion. Although the army had abandoned the fortress in Cheshire by 410, when the Romans left Britannia, the civilian settlement continued. This was a pivotal and important moment in the history of Cheshire and led to the development of Cheshire as we know it today in more ways than we think. The Romans brought a lot of things to Cheshire that we still use today!