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Minerva Shrine

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The last remaining Roman rock cut shrine in situ in Britain or even possibly western Europe

Edgar's Field Handbridge Chester Cheshire U.K. CH4 7JE

https://www.fieldsintrust.org/FieldSite/Edgars-Field-Park

How to get there:
From the Cross walk downhill to the river along Bridge Street. Go over the Old Dee Bridge to Handbridge. The shrine is located on a sandstone outcrop at the back of a playing field on the right hand side of the road.

     Rollover to view outline of the shrine image
Chestertourist.com - Minerva Shrine - Rollover to view outline of the shrine image

Chestertourist.com - Minerva Shrine in Roman Times

An image of Minerva by David Heke
Chestertourist.com - Image of the Roman godess Minerva by David Heke

About the Shrine

The Minerva Shrine is the only rock cut roman shrine remaining in situ in the UK. The shrine is carved in low relief into the cliff of an old Roman quarry. The shrine is small standing 4 feet 9 inches tall, and 2 feet 6 inches wide. The Roman godess Minerva is shown holding a spear in her right hand and owl above her right shoulder, which is said to represent wisdom.

Minerva is the roman goddess of soldiers, knowledge, wisdom and manual and technical skills. In Britain she was invoked as an aquatic goddess. In Roman times an offering was placed in the focus of an altar carved in the bottom left corner, to provide protection during the crossing of the river Dee at the ford. It is said that the old Roman road may have passed near or in front of the shrine. Below is a representation of how the shrine might have looked in Roman times. It is a photo of a drawing in the Grosvenor Museum.

In Roman times the godess Minerva was celebrated at the spring festival of Quinquatria held five days after the ides of March.

The shrine is thought to date from the 2nd century A.D. and was put there as thanks for the reconstruction of the Roman fort in stone. The shrine was not thought to have been painted and was left in the rough.

Edgar's Cave

Chestertourist.com - Painted tiles in the Bull & Stirrup pub Chester City Centre Chestertourist.com - Edgar's Field Handbridge Chester

Edgar's Field got its name because according to legend King Edgar stayed at a palace on this field in A.D. 973 and was rowed up the River Dee to St Johns Church by six tributary kings so they could swear allegiance to him.

The opening to the right is known as 'Edgar's Cave'. It is thought that in the Middle Ages, the figure was worshipped as the Virgin and offerings where left there. The Shrine has weathered badly due to the soft nature of the sandstone. It has been exposed to the elements for 1900 years. A cast of the shrine can be seen in the Grosvenor museum.

Site of the Roman ford
There may also have been a ferry service in operation in Roman Times taking visitors to the Roman fortress of Deva. Chestertourist.com - The Chester River Dee Roman ford

Edgar's Field viewed from the City of Chester
Chestertourist.com - Minerva Shrine - Edgars Field viewed from the City of Chester

Traces of fire

In 1923 the ground in front of the shrine was excavated by Professor Robert Newstead, who lived in Handbridge.
Traces of fires were found along with pottery from the second, third and forth centuries. It is thought that the area may have been used for ritual activity for example baptism.

Also offerings would have been placed by troops travelling out south to the civilian settlement of Viriconium (Wroxeter) 50 miles away or two days march.

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/wroxeter-roman-city/

Chestertourist.com - The Roman altar to Nemesis in Chester Amphitheatre

The shrine has been linked to the altar to Nemesis found in the Amphitheatre excavation in the 1960's

It is thought that the stone excavated from the quarry was used to build the Amphitheatre and the Roman Fortress.

Chestertourist.com - A depiction of a Roman Altar

Roman Inscription of Septimius Serverus

This small Roman commemorative inscription was found in Edgar's Field in 1927. It is unfinished and refers to the Roman Emperor Septimius Serverus (AD 194 - 196). It is on display in the Grosvenor Museum. It reads 'SERVERO IMP PATRE PATIAE COS'. Emperor Septimius Serverus, Father of his country, Chief Magistrate.

In A.D. 208 Septimius Serverus travelled to Britain with the intention of conquering Caledonia modern day Scotland.

Chestertourist.com - Roman Inscription to the Roman Emperor Septimius Serverus Found at Edgars Field Chester

The Sandstone outcrop on which the shrine is carved.
Chestertourist.com - Minerva Shrine outcrop is located in the suburb of Handbridge in Chester

The Shrine itself.
Chestertourist.com - Minerva Shrine Chester Page One

Chestertourist.com - Minerva Shrine Chester Page Two

Chestertourist.com - Minerva Shrine Chester Page Three

The owl above the right shoulder represents wisdom.
Chestertourist.com - Minera's Owl of wisdom. Which is represented on the Shrine

The relief Roman altar focus for offerings.
Chestertourist.com - Minerva Shrine in Roman Times 2

'Edgar's Cave'. Possibly a natural fissure that has been enlarged from a small niche.
Chestertourist.com - Minerva ShrineEdgar's Cave

The Minerva Roman Shrine is signposted from the main road.
Chestertourist.com - The Minerva shrine is signposted from the Handbridge road

The Roman quarry face.
Chestertourist.com - The Minerva shrineThe Roman quary face

The Old Dee Bridge is near by. Click on the picture for more information.
Chestertourist.com - The Old Dee Bridge Chester

These tiles in the Bull and Stirrup Pub show King Edgar being rowed up the River by the tributary kings.
King Edgar
i - King Edgar Click here for more information about King Edgar from Wikipedia


The shrine of St. Werburgh

The Minerva Shrine plaster cast in The Grosvenor Museum

To the left of the centurial stones is a reconstruction of the Minerva Shrine.

Chestertourist.com - Chester Minerva Shrine Plaster Cast One

Chestertourist.com - Chester Minerva Shrine Plaster Cast Two

Chester Minerva Festival

TBA


www.grosvenormuseum.co.uk
Chestertourist.com - Chester Minerva Festival Page One

Minerva Community Project

It has been proposed to restore and clean this ancient monument in 2022. Also new signs will be added by Cheshire West and Chester Council. Public meetings have been held at St Marys Community Centre Handbridge Chester.

Reviews

The Web Master has Visited this establishment - Chester Roman Minerva Shrine Date Visited 1st May 2024

Events

Sometimes people leave offerings in front of the statue.

Chestertourist.com - Minerva Roman Altar Edgars Field Handbridge Chester


Facebook - Quinquatrus https://www.facebook.com/MinervaCommunityProject
Quinquatrus
The Celebration of the Goddess Minerva
Begins on 19th March 2024
We will be laying flowers at The Shrine at 1:30pm this Tuesday.

The Minerva Community Project aims at promoting the Roman shrine to the goddess Minerva - a Grade I listed building, in Handbridge, Chester.
This heritage is a wonderful catalyst for our local community and beyond.

Chestertourist.com - Chester Minerva Shrine Events Quinquatrus The Celebration of the Goddess Minerva Page Five

Chestertourist.com - Chester Minerva Shrine Events Page One

Chestertourist.com - Chester Minerva Shrine Events Page Two

Chestertourist.com - Chester Minerva Shrine Events Page Three

Chestertourist.com - Chester Minerva Shrine Events Page Four

External Links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minerva%27s_Shrine,_Chester

www.chesterholidayrentals.co.uk

www.megalithic.co.uk

http://www.yourwestcheshire.co.uk/pages/2336/1/Heritage_Trails_in_Chester.html


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