Monday, September 20, 2010

Roman shrine to Minerva, St Edgar's Field, Chester

Roman shrine to Minerva
St Edgar's Field

According to Chesterwiki this the the last surviving rock-cut Roman shrine still standing in its original location in the whole of Western Europe. The shrine was dedicated to Minerva, the ancient Roman goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts and magic, often associated with the Greek goddess Athena.

The shrine is thought to date from the rule of Vespasian, sometime around 79AD, and may have been positioned for travellers both entering and exiting the city of Chester to pay their respects for a good days travelling or trading.

Above. The Eastern side of the shrine, with the carved image of Minerva.

The carving is very badly weathered, but it is surprising that it has actually survived this long, considering both the effects of the weather and vandalism. One theory has it that the image of Minerva was thought to be that of the Virgin Mary, and was therefore saved from any religious vandalism.

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