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Historic England Research Records

Roman Fortress Baths Chester

Hob Uid: 1503685
Location :
Cheshire West and Chester
Non Civil Parish
Grid Ref : SJ4056566181
Summary : A Roman bath house, completed in 79 AD, remodelled 225-250 AD, with further phases of alterations in the early 4th century and c370 AD. The Roman Legionary fortress baths at Chester were situated in the area which is now Bridge Street. The exact plan of the complex is not totally clear, because excavation has been necessarily piecemeal and areas are covered by more modern buildings. The positioning of the baths complex within the Roman fortress of Deva would have been on one of the main streets; the Via Praetoria, close to the south gate. It was placed in the first building strip or "scamnum" of this block, which is unusual for Roman planning - the usual Roman procedure would be to place it in the second strip. Constructed of Roman concrete rubble with local stone facings, it measured 86m east-west and 83 metres north-south. It featured the standard elements of a Roman bath-house, with a large heated hall, probably with an indoor pool, a dry heated area like a Scandinavian Sauna, an open-air exercise yard, and a progression of cold to hot baths running north-south in a row-type arrangement. Changes to the initial form of the baths created by 79 AD included the addition of a new heated room and furnaces between 225 and 250 AD; rebuilding of the hypocausts and remodelling of the caldarium (hot baths) in the early 4th century and finally further remodelling of the caldarium and plunge baths circa 370 AD.It has been conjectured that after the end of Roman rule, although no longer functioning as a bath house, large portions of the shell of the building would have been standing well into the Early Medieval period, possibly used for storage or domestic use. From about 1100 onwards the building was demolished and robbed for its stone to be used in new buildings; it is thought that by about 1500 nothing visible remained above ground. Some of the Roman masonry is visible in the cellar of number 39 Bridge Street.
More information : For a thorough study of the Chester legionary bath house see the 2005 report by David Mason. The Roman Legionary fortress baths at Chester were situated in the area which is now Bridge Street. The exact plan of the complex is not totally clear, because excavation has been necessarily piecemeal and areas are covered by more modern buildings. The positioning of the baths complex within the Roman fortress of Deva would have been on one of the main streets; the Via Praetoria, close to the south gate. It was placed in the first building strip or "scamnum" of this block, which is unusual for Roman planning - the usual Roman procedure would be to place it in the second strip. Constructed of Roman concrete rubble with local stone facings, it measured 86m east-west and 83 metres north-south. It featured the standard elements of a Roman bath-house, with a large heated hall, probably with an indoor pool, a dry heated area like a Scandinavian Sauna, an open-air exercise yard, and a progression of cold to hot baths running north-south in a row-type arrangement. The development and demolition of the bath house can be subdivided into four phases of building and alteration and perhaps three of decay and demolition. Phase I: the initial form of the baths created by 79 AD. Phase II: addition of a new heated room and furnaces between 225 and 250 AD; Phase III: rebuilding of the hypocausts and remodelling of the caldarium (hot baths) in the early 4th century and IV, finally further remodelling of the caldarium and plunge baths circa 370 AD. Phase V: It has been conjectured that after the end of Roman rule, although no longer functioning as a bath house, large portions of the shell of the building would have been standing well into the Early Medieval period, possibly used for storage or domestic use. Phase VI-VII From about 1100 onwards the building was demolished and robbed for its stone to be used in new buildings, the first phase of this activity (Phase VI) may have been planned; the second demolition phase (VII) adhoc and gradual. It is thought that by about 1500 nothing visible remained above ground. The report includes discussion of construction methods and has numerous illustrations. (1)

A Brief summary with reconstruction drawing can be found in the English Heritage book on Chester. (2)

A longer summary about legionary baths (3).

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Excavations at Chester: The Roman fortress baths excavation and recording 1732-1998.
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Source Number : 2
Source : English Heritage book of Chester
Source details :
Page(s) : 34
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Source Number : 3
Source : Roman Chester: city of the eagles
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Page(s) : 66-73
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Altered 225-250 AD
Monument End Date : 250
Monument Start Date : 225
Monument Type : Bath House
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Altered early C4 AD
Monument End Date : 332
Monument Start Date : 301
Monument Type : Bath House
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Altered c370 AD
Monument End Date : 380
Monument Start Date : 360
Monument Type : Bath House
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Completed 79 AD
Monument End Date : 79
Monument Start Date : 79
Monument Type : Bath House
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Conjectural Post Roman use
Monument End Date : 1066
Monument Start Date : 410
Monument Type : Storehouse, House
Evidence : Conjectural Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Demolition from 1100 onward
Monument End Date : 1500
Monument Start Date : 1100
Monument Type : Bath House
Evidence : Conjectural Evidence

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SJ 46 NW 379
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 545419
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :