Last weekend I had a couple of hours free to take some photographs and was trying to think of where I could go to get some pictures that was reasonably near my house and could be combined with a visit to see my parents. In the end I decided to see if I could find the ‘Three Roman Bridges’ that are very near my parent’s home in Rowton, near Chester. Now, I spent a good part of my life in this house, admittedly my teenage years, and although I often heard people talk about walking up the the Roman bridges I had never been to see them myself. Put this down to laziness, disinterest, teenage ideas that fresh air and walking were things that only ‘old’ people did. Anyway, for whatever reason I had never been, even though they were on my doorstep so to speak.
First up I should state that debate still rages as to whether they are Roman are not. Certainly, they stand on the Cheshire stretch of Roman road Watling Street but their age can only be accurately dated back to the 1600s. Before that that it gets a bit fuzzy. However, whilst I was photographing them a local resident insisted that they were far older and are actually Anglo Saxon. Whichever way you look at it they are old. One of them, the one pictured here, still crosses the river Gowy whilst the other two stand adrift – whatever water they once traversed has long been diverted.
As a photographer most of the photo opportunities available to me are local and unfortunately Cheshire is incredibly flat. That’s not to say that the Cheshire countryside isn’t lovely – it is – it just doesn’t hold the scenic pull of The Lakes or the Highlands of Scotland or the Northumberland and Pembrokeshire coasts. I’m not complaining, it’s where I live and I love it, but my major photography expeditions require planning, understanding from the family and usually time off work. In addition, my home city of Chester is one of the most photographed in the UK after London and York and it is sometimes hard to get a different take on it (the resent snow helped no end in this respect).
I suppose what I am trying to say in this blog, and probably not very well, is that you will be surprised what you can find on your doorstep if you look around. The UK as a country is steeped in history and I think that as a nation we often overlook the great things that we have. Things that are proper old, Stonehenge for example or the 100s of castles that dot our landscape, surround us and yet we take them for granted. Tourists from relatively new countries marvel at our ancient heritage and people come to live in the UK specifically for its historical riches. I am forever amazed that in 2010 we can still unearth hordes of Saxon gold…
Chester is a Roman walled city, specifically built to counter the Celtic hordes that resided in what we now call Wales. As such I have been bombarded with information about the Romans from primary school. We even have an amphitheatre (although only half of it is currently visible, plans are now in place to excavate the other half once the disused convent that sits on top of it has been demolished). And then there is the Norman cathedral, the Tudor shopping gallerias, the civil war connections (Charles I watched the battle of Rowton Moor from the city walls and Chester was besieged by Cromwell’s New Model Army). Added together, all these influences go some way to explain why I ended up studying history and why I am now so interested in photographing it.
So there you go. It’s amazing the local history you can find on your doorstep if you just go and look. The teenage me should have got out more