The Chester Archaeological Society was founded in 1849. From the beginning our interests have extended over the historic county of Cheshire (including Wirral and parts of Greater Manchester) plus neighbouring areas, and have included archaeology, history, architectural history and conservation.

History of the Society

The Society’s name has varied over the years, alternating between the concise and the comprehensive. The first was the ‘Chester Architectural, Archaeological and Historic Society’. In 1886 this was altered to ‘The Archaeological and Historic Society for the County and City of Chester and North Wales’. After a number of  minor changes over the years in 1966 this was finally reduced to the simple ‘Chester Archaeological Society’. Despite these alterations, the geographical scope and range of interests of the Society have remained largely unaltered.

Together with the Chester Society of Natural Science, Literature and Art, the Society founded the Grosvenor Museum, opened in 1886, and played a key role in establishing Chester’s renowned collection of Roman inscriptions and sculptures and in safeguarding the archives of the county. It has sponsored many archaeological investigations and was largely responsible for ensuring the preservation and display of Chester’s Roman amphitheatre and for preventing the demolition of numerous historic buildings.

As part of its 150th anniversary celebrations in 1999, a history of the Society was commissioned from Preston-based historian Dr Alan Crosby, the author of a number of regional studies. The Chester Archaeological Society, the first one hundred and fifty years is available from Alice Bray at a price of £8.50 to members, £10.00 to non-members, plus £1.00 packing and postage, payable by cash, cheque or postal order to ‘Chester Archaeological Society’.

In December 2009 Liz Royles, Keeper of Early History at the Grosvenor Museum, gave a lecture  on the life and career of Professor Robert Newstead, the leading figure of the Society between the Wars.  You can see the slides of her lecture here (15MB Adobe Acrobat file). (copyright CWaC: Grosvenor Museum).

Objectives

The objectives of the Society as set out in 1849 were practical and wide-ranging, comprising:

  1. Promoting the preservation and improvement of archaeological sites and landscapes, ancient monuments, historic buildings and spaces and other antiquities situated in, discovered in or connected with Chester, Cheshire and North Wales
  2. Undertaking, assisting or encouraging archaeological, architectural and historical research
  3. Organising lectures, meetings and exhibitions on archaeological, architectural and historical subjects
  4. Organising excursions to places of archaeological, architectural and historical interest
  5. Maintaining and enhancing the Society’s library of works on relevant topics
  6. Publishing a journal and disseminating information in a variety of media on relevant archaeological, architectural and historical subjects and on the work of the Society.

These objectives remain largely unchanged and are set out in Section C of the latest version of our constitution.

Present-day activities

  • Monthly lectures from Autumn to Spring by expert speakers on a wide range of topics
  • Day and weekend excursions in the Summer on demand
  • Fieldwork projects in collaboration with local professional organisations
  • Campaigning on local heritage issues
  • Publication of a nationally renowned specialist journal
  • Publication of a twice-yearly newsletter
  • Maintenance of its own library with a fine, wide-ranging collection of books

The events and facilities of the Society are open to the general public.

Professor Francis Haverfield, who published the first catalogue of Roman stones from Chester in the Society’s Journal

Hugh Thompson, Curator of the Grosvenor Museum, excavating Chester amphitheatre in the 1960s. The Society bought part of the amphitheatre site in the 1930s to safeguard it from development

Society volunteers starting excavation at Heronbridge in 2002