I was pleased and proud to support and promote my Department of History and Archaeology at the University of Chester, its my students and my colleagues, by taking part in the BBC History Magazine’s History Weekend at Chester Town Hall.
On Friday 25th, I led one of the two walking tours of the city organised to coincide with the weekend events. My ‘Death and the City’ tour was a sell-out two-hour exploration of the Roman, medieval and modern monuments and material cultures of death in parts of the historic city of Chester. Through this tour, I was able to showcase the many archaeological dimensions of death and memory covered in my undergraduate teaching, but also in the unique MA Archaeology of Death and Memory.
Many potential locations was bypassed for this short tour, but we did explore the HQ site and its medieval grave-slab as well as Chester’s loneliest gravestone before exploring the older part of the Victorian cemetery of Chester across the Grosvenor Bridge at Overleigh including a visit to the grave of the “Chewing Gum girl” (see also here).
We then walked along the footpath beside the Dee to Edgar’s Field where we explored the modern mosaic and the Roman Minerva shrine. Moving further up the bank of the Dee and across the Queens Park Bridge, we discussed the love-locks (also here) before visiting St John’s Priory. Outside, we viewed the vertical coffin, before entering to see and discuss the Viking-period crosses and the later medieval mortuary monuments. To my shame, it seems I have never blogged about the fabulous stones within St John’s, and I want to remedy that very soon.
There was not time to look at many other potential stopping points on this Chester mortuary extravaganza. Perhaps further tours are required in future years and we hope the BBC event comes back to Chester. I was very impressed by my die-hard group, some locals from either side of the Welsh border, and also visitors from Alberta, Canada. The real challenge for all those on the tour, including me as guide, was the horrendous weather – I was like a half-drowned rat as I squelched and waddled my way back to my car and home for a bath and sleep…