Chesters Museum

Chesters Museum © David Gill

The collection in the site museum at Chesters Museum was formed by John Clayton (1792-1890) [ODNB]. He inherited the Chesters estate in 1832. The museum opened in 1903. The original layout was by the Egyptologist Sir Wallis Budge (1857-1934).

ODNB notes, ‘In the early twenty-first century the Clayton collection at Chesters Roman Fort and Museum—under the care of English Heritage—remains an internationally recognized site of Roman history and Victorian collecting practices’.

Chesters Museum © David Gill

Tucked inside my MPBW guidebook is a paper guide to the museum by Grace Simpson, the Honorary Curator. The sections include: History of the Museum; The Inscriptions; The Building of Hadrian’s Wall, with sub-sections on the Centurial Stones, Milecastle Inscriptions, Fort Inscriptions, Chesters Garrisons, The Second Ala of Asturians; Religious Sculptures, with a sub-section on Tombstones; Objects in the Show-Cases, with sub-sections on the Chesters Diploma, the Clayton Corn-Measure, the Water-Mill Stones, and Roman Flooring. The guide was printed by the Oxonian Press, Oxford.

Guide to Chesters Museum


Heritage Signs: Commandant’s House

Chesters Roman Fort: Commandant’s House © David Gill

Foundations of buildings can be hard to understand and the Ministry of Works labelled individual buildings and features for visitors. This sign is placed on the east side of the ‘Commandant’s House’ at Chesters Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall (Northumberland).

Professor Eric Birley’s guide (Chesters Roman Fort, Ministry of Public Buildings and Works, 1960; sixth impression 1970) has a section on the ‘Commandant’s House and bath-house’ (p. 21). The building was excavated by John Clayton in 1843. The same terminology is also used on the fort plan.

Nick Hodgson’s guide (Chesters Roman Fort, English Heritage, 2011) has a section on the ‘Commanding officer’s house (Praetorium)’ (no. 4) and ‘Praetorium baths’ (no. 5). Indeed the sign ‘Commandant’s House’ is placed on what Hodgson defines as the ‘Praetorium baths’.

My 13th edition of Collingwood Bruce’s Handbook to the Roman Wall (1978) [ed. Charles Daniels] identifies the ‘House and baths of commandant’ (on the plan) but discusses ‘the commanding-officer’s house’ and ‘the commanding-officers’ [sic.] bath-house’ (p. 115). My 14th edition (2006; David J. Breeze) refers to the ‘commanding officer’s house’ (p. 203).

%d bloggers like this: