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Map (1898) showing the location of the Infirmary and surrounding antiquities

Twin Town

Sens is the French "Twin Town" of Chester. Lorrach begin the story with the towns Sens (France, since 1966), Senigallia (Italy, since 1986) and Chester (Great Britain, since 2002). The partnership with Sens was born from the idea of reconciliation after the war. The historical bonds between Sens and Senigallia result from the tri-partnership with Lörrach. The city of Senss is said to have been one of the oppida of the Senones, one of the oldest Celtic tribes living in Gaul. It is mentioned as Agedincum by Julius Caesar several times in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico. The Roman city was built during the first century BC and surrounded by walls (of which little remains) during the third, although it still retains today the skeleton of its Roman street plan. Senigallia was first settled in the 4th century BC by the gallic Senones who first settled this coastal area. In 284 BC, the settlement was taken over by Romans, who established the colony Sena Gallica there.

Roman Remains

Infirmary field is the site of a Roman cemetery first discovered in 1858 subsequent investigations in the area have identified over 45 inhumations. The excavated burials consists only of internments and not cremations however several cremations were noted in the initial discovery in 1858. In the earlier stages of the Roman period cremation was the customary burial rite. During the second century, interment was introduced as an alternative, and by the end of the third century it had completely replaced cremation as the habitual burial practice. The excavations in 1912-1917 on the site of the Royal Infirmary recorded 50 inhumations alone and appear to date to the mid first to mid second century although one chambered burial is thought to be early third century indicating an early inhumation cemetery. These excavations have provided us with the most information on this cemetery.

Road

Extensive archaeological remains dating from Roman to post medieval times were recorded during 1998 excavations at the Royal Infirmary, building upon earlier archaeological work carried out in 1992 (ECH3601). The largest feature of medieval date was a 24m length of finely constructed road, was sealed by post medieval soil accumulation (CHER 10382). The road ran in a north-north-west by south-south-east direction, and at its northern end, turned at a right angle to the east. Set onto a sandy bedding deposit, he eastern side of the carriageway was edged with red sandstone blocks and occasional cobbles, while the western half was less well preserved; the southern part was constructed almost entirely of sandstone, and the northern part was mainly cobbles.

The full width of the road is estimated at 3.3m, and it sloped inwards from the sides to a central drainage channel, in which medieval pottery was found. The central drain shifts position slightly to the east where the construction material of the road changes. The road had been subject to several repairs, and the excavators state that it may have been in use up to the eighteenth century, although no road appears in this location on the Lavaux Map (1745).

An old map of Chester with the "Mount" labled and the trenches in the Infirmary Field marked

Civil War

During the siege of Chester in the Civil War (1643-6) a gun was placed on Norgans Mount and from its commanding position kept the besieging Parliamentary forces at bay for some time. However, on October the 4th 1645 the besiegers planted four large pieces of ordinance against the walls, between the Northgate and the Water Tower and battered the walls so fiercely that they beat down a portion of the walls and compelled the Royalist garrison to retreat from the walls. However the Parliamentary forces did not succeed in entering the City as during the bombardment the garrison had entrenched Lady Barrow's Hey (the Infirmary Field - now a housing estate) and so prevented the attackers from exploiting their breach. It was during this attack that Sir William Mainwaring fell.

Pigot described the incident as follows:

  • "Tbe besiegers removed their great ordnance and planted four large pieces against the walls between the Northgate and the New Tower where the besieged had some cannon planted upon Morgan's mount All Sunday the enemy played their artillery so violently that they beat down some battlements and forced the King's soldiers to retire from the walls and they likewise by a shot scattered the carriage of one of the largest cannons which in the fall had two feet of the muzzle broke off. That night the besieged repaired the damages and made entrenchments in the Lady Borough hey which they found to be very serviceable in the defence of that part of the city "

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St Martins Way

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