Chester’s Minerva Shrine is a near-miraculous and unique survival of an open-air rock-cut shrine to the pagan Roman goddess Minerva. It has been dated to the early 2nd century AD when it would have overlooked quarries and the Roman road heading south over the Dee from the fortress of the Legio XX Valeria Victrix.

Situated in Edgar’s Field, Handbridge, Chester, it is a Grade I listed monument. It has been afforded no adequate heritage protection from the elements, let alone from accidental or deliberate human damage. Therefore, this is an irreplaceable monument and yet it is slowing eroding out of existence through passive neglect.

My MRes Archaeology student, Roger Lang, has previously done fabulous 3D photogrammetry work on early medieval stone sculpture. With Professor Dominic Powlesland he has visualised and narrated the Gosforth Cross as part of a school-based project communicating the ‘pagan’ and Christian stories on the monument. Also check out his own preliminary photogrammetric 3D models for other pieces of early medieval stone sculpture in the North West of England, including the Halton Cross, the Heysham hogback, the ‘Loki stone’ from Kirkby Stephen, the Clifton stone, and the crucifixion plaque held in Kendal Museum.

MinervaAs part of his Research Skills portfolio for his MRes Archaeology, Roger conducted a survey of past research on the Minerva shrine, and as a sideline of his endeavours, he created a fabulous video to suggest how antiquarian illustrations can assist in visualising the heavily eroded and damaged monument for visitors today. As highlighted at the end of the video, Roger is also working to collaborate with experts in AR (Augmented Reality) to 3D visualise the Minerva Shrine for visitors to the site.minerva3

Congratulations Roger on your video and work so far, and this really helps me gain a sense of the fragmentary remains we see in Edgar’s Field today. I look forward to supporting, and seeing the outcome of, your Minerva Shrine side-project. Roger’s research on the pedagogic value of 3D photogrammetry of early medieval stone sculpture is also eagerly anticipated.