The Chester playground with its very own Roman goddess

There’s a goddess down the end of my road. She’s called Minerva and a bit of a stunner by all accounts.

I never knew she lived close by and my four-year-old toddler has been playing on the swings on her doorstep for ages, oblivious to the secret siren who dwells within.

I only found out myself after a story in the local newspaper, the Chester Chronicle, reported that a £210,000 revamp of Edgar’s Field Park, a park and kids’ playground with views of the River Dee in Handbridge, Chester, gets under way today, March 8.

Roman soldierHidden heritage

But, aside from the prospect of new swings, what really caught my eye is the field at the end of my road, given to Chester by the Duke of Westminster in 1892, is home to a hidden gem of Roman history.

The park is built on the site of a Roman quarry and is designated as a Regionally Important Geodiversity Site.

The Roman shrine to the goddess Minerva, images of which here, is believed to be the only example of an in-situ rock carving of the goddess in Western Europe.

Local support

Hit the North is all for promoting tourism in our own backyard but this site of major historical interest, completely unknown to me until this week, is literally five minutes from my front door.

Why does it take a new roundabout for the local kids to bring this story to light?

Local tourism body, Visit Chester & Cheshire, recently announced Chestival 2010, a summer arts festival of town criers, mystery plays and, err, giant sculpted rhinos. But it’s a group of local volunteers that fought for Edgar’s Fields.

Chester trades a lot on some pretty hackneyed images of its Roman history but here’s a genuine opportunity to showcase a real find. The project needs support to both protect and celebrate Minerva’s Handbridge residency.

Besides, it’s not every day you find a bone-fide goddess down the end of your street.

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