Chesters (Cilurnum) Fort – Quick Facts
AD 122 – Chesters was built as part of Hadrian’s Wall and sat astride it with one third of the fort lying to the north of the wall.
Cilurnum is a little unusual because its fort wall remains are buried and the fort is delineated by a fence of wire and black iron posts.
- Gates: all four gates are visible, along with two south interval towers and the angle tower on the southwest corner. Each gate is flanked by the remains of two small guard houses and all the gates have double portals. The west gate has remains of a bakehouse with ovens. A little stub of Hadrian’s Wall juts out from the west gate.
- Principia (headquarters): an impressive underground strong house with stairs leading down into it and an arched ceiling. When the room was discovered in 1803 it had a large iron-bound and studded door which sadly did not survive.
- Praetorium (commanding officer’s house): quite extensive remains including rooms with hypocausts for underground heating and a large private bath suite.
- Bath House: down the slope towards the River Tyne are the extensive remains of a bath house. Most striking are seven arched niches along the wall of the apodyterium (changing room) which likely held statues representing the personifications of the days of the week – Sol (the sun), Luna (the moon), Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn.
- Bridge Abutment: the Romans built at least two bridges at this spot, the first being contemporary with the building of the fort. The second is likely from the early 3rd century and its abutment remains are located across the river from the fort.
- The museum has been here since 1896. Pieces in this museum come from Chesters as well as from the forts at Vindolanda, Housesteads, Carvoran and Carrawburgh.
- Statues, gravestones and altars line the walls around the main room.
- Two artefacts stand out. One is a bronze modius, or measuring vessel, from the Carvoran that was used to measure 17 ½ sextarii (around 9.5 litres) of grain. Its completeness and condition make it one of the finest from the Roman world. The other is a hand-mill for grinding grain with not only both mill stones but also its iron fitting surviving.
Brunton Turret (26B)
A length of wall leads up a slope to the turret.
Planetrees Wall Section
An interesting stretch of wall because here we can see where wall construction narrowed and there are both three meter wide and two meter wide wall remains. Archaeologists believe that the wider width was part of the original plan but was then deemed too ambitious and the wall was made narrower to speed up construction and reduce the amount of material required. The soldiers building the foundations were faster than the wall builders and so most of the three meter wide foundations had been laid along the wall before the switch. At Planetrees this wider base sticks out from the narrower wall remains.