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The History of Chester
Chester began when the Romans built a fort next to the River Dee about 75 AD. The Roman fort was called Deva. At first the fort was made of wood. It had a ditch outside and an earth embankment with a wooden palisade on top. At the beginning of the 2nd century parts of the fort were rebuilt in stone.
Soon a civilian settlement grew up outside the fort at Chester. The soldiers provided a market for the civilian's goods. In Roman Chester there were the same craftsmen found all over the empire such as potters, bakers, butchers, carpenters and blacksmiths. Roman Chester was also a busy little port and luxuries such as wine and finely made pottery were imported.
In Roman Chester there was a large amphitheatre were people were entertained by gladiators or by cruel 'sports' such as cock fighting and bear baiting.
However in the 4th century Roman civilisation began to break down. In England people drifted away from the towns like Chester and they were left almost or wholly abandoned.
In 1069 the north of England rebelled against William the Conqueror. In retaliation he carried out the 'harrying of the north'. In Chester more than 200 houses were destroyed. In 1070 William built a wooden castle at Chester to hold the inhabitants in check. In the 13th century it was rebuilt in stone. In 1092 a weir was built across the Dee. On both sides of the Dee watermills ground grain to flour.
In 1071 King William made a man named William of Avranches Earl of Chester. The Earl had control of the town. However from 1301 the kings oldest son was the Earl of Chester.
Chester thrived in the early Middle Ages. It still imported luxuries like wine and traded with places like Ireland and North Wales. In Chester the main industry was leather. There were skinners and tanners. There were also glovers, shoemakers and saddlers. Some wool was also woven in the town and exported.