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Chester House and the ARC


The Chester House Estate is a nationally significant heritage site, being one of the few places in the country which can demonstrate over 10,000 years of human activity. The unique selling point of The Chester House Estate is summed up in the words “10,000 years of Northamptonshire’s heritage brought to life”.

What a gem Chester House is.  From the delightful Farm House coffee shop to the revitalised farm buildings, and the purpose built ARC (Archaeological Resource Centre) to the hidden Roman walled town, plus the whole area is stuffed with history going back thousands of years.

Our group met up at the coffee shop ready to start our day of discovery and all looking forward to exploring Chester House and what if offers. Many of us visited the learning and community centre which offered sights and smells from the past and an insight to what life was like in the Roman, Mesolithic, Iron Age and medieval periods.

After having lunch together, we made our way to the ARC where we were greeted by Ben Donnelly-Symes the Archaeological Archive Curator who had kindly offered us a private tour.

Ben started our tour by explaining all about the ARC and what is housed there, thousands and thousands of archaeological finds from mainly Northamptonshire. He showed us where everything is housed, and various artifacts, including a 12,000-year-old fossilized woolly Rhinoceros leg bone, which is the oldest item in the ARC, Saxon Bowl discovered by Time Team, Iron Age tiny gold coin found near Bozeat, and a large glazed medieval jug which was found whole and made in the Lyvdon / Stanion area.  

After our fascinating tour of the ARC, Ben escorted us to where the archaeological dig has been taking place of the Roman Cemetery, one of five discovered in the area.  He explained the landscape and where the walled Roman town is and various Roman roads.

A huge thank you to Ben for such an informative, wonderful tour.  

Note:  Upon reaching the roundabout at Oundle on our way home, we gave a thought to the Roman cemetery that we were driving on.  We had learnt from Ben of a huge Roman settlement on the Ashton / Oundle borders and a Roman cemetery was discovered where the roundabout now is and artifacts from the settlement and cemetery are now in the ARC.