Britain’s Most Historic Towns


Reimagining the nation’s capital

Citing his inspiration as our post that reimagined Winchester as the nation’s capital, we recently published a guest blog by John Murray. Following the episode of Channel 4’s Britain’s Most Historic Towns, John replicated our technique to reimagine Chester (Britain’s most Roman town) as the capital.

Out of curiosity, we thought it could be interesting to see what other cities would look like if they were the capital. As with Winchester, many cities have backstories which historically make them viable capital candidates. We got our Graduate Consultant Data Scientist, Jacob Rainbow, involved and, as with the Winchester map, he applied the same process.

York reimagined as the capital.

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Was Chester the intended capital of Roman Britain?

Inspired by a previous blog post that re-imagined Winchester as the nation’s capital through mapping, guest blogger John Murray applied this technique to Chester.

There has been much speculation amongst historians and archaeologists on whether Roman Chester (Deva) was intended to be the capital of Britannia.

This was the subject of a BBC Two Timewatch programme (Britain’s Lost Colosseum) from 2005 and, more recently, in Professor Alice Roberts’ Britain’s Most Historic Towns programme about Roman Chester.

During an archaeological dig in 1939, the remains of a substantial elliptical building were discovered immediately to the dextral rear (north west) of the headquarters building (Principia).

The map below shows the approximate location of these buildings. The elliptical building would have been approximately where the present-day Chester Market Hall is located.

Location of Principia and Elliptical Building overlaid on OS Open Map-Local with present day city walls.

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