Chester holds Roman festival tomorrow and Monday

Shrine to host Roman festival

May 23 2008 by Laurie Stocks-Moore, Chester Chronicle

A TWO-DAY Roman extravaganza will take Chester back to the first century AD.

The second annual Festival of Minerva is a free event set up by Roman Tours/Deva Victrix and the Grosvenor Museum.

After the success of last year’s inaugural event, 2008’s festivities will be staged over two days this weekend – Whitsun bank holiday – on Sunday and Monday.

The main events will take place at the site of the original 2nd Century shrine to Minerva, and the only remaining rock- carved shrine left in the western hemisphere, at Edgar’s Field Park in Handbridge.

Her shrine is in Edgar’s Field because the site was once a Roman quarry and she would have been the patron goddess of those working there.

Centurion Paul Harston, otherwise known as Ocratius, says: “Drop in and discover your heritage. Edgar’s Field is Chester’s best kept secret.

“Minerva was the third most important deity in the Roman pantheon and she was obviously important to the Romans who built Chester because they made the shrine.”

Minerva, daughter of Jupiter, was the virgin goddess of poetry, crafts, and the inventor of music.

Fittingly, from 11am- 3pm on both days of the festival there will be displays of Roman dancing and a metal smith and potter will be re-enacting the art of period crafts.

At 11am, about 15 soldiers will begin their parade to Edgar’s Field from The Cross in Chester city centre and an accurate reconstruction of the dedication to the shrine will take place at 1pm.

The Emperor will then give offerings to Minerva at the shrine, just as he would have 2,000 years ago.

Mr Harston added: “It was very successful last year and a few people travelled all the way from Cornwall, but few people even know where Edgar’s Field is.”

“We are putting something back in and trying to put a big spotlight on our heritage which is unique in Britain.”

A live centurion will also be stationed at the Grosvenor Museum overseeing a host of other activities.

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