'Brutal End In The Arena'
Updated: 08:55, Saturday February 17, 2007
Gladiatorial games were probably held at Britain's largest Roman amphitheatre, archaeologists have revealed.
Experts have unearthed new evidence in the remains of the Chester Amphitheatre which suggests gladiators appeared there.
Previously it was thought the arena had only been used for military activities.
While excavating the site, archaeologists from English Heritage and Chester City Council discovered a large stone block with an iron fitting fastened into the surface.
They believe it was used for chaining human or animal victims during the gladiatorial-style spectacles.
Two similar blocks were found in the northern half of the arena in the 1960s.
Dan Garner, an archaeologist with Chester City Council, said: "Any thought that Chester's amphitheatre was used purely for military purposes such as military tattoos or drill practice can now be firmly banished.
"Up to now, we have found human and animal remains to suggest that gladiatorial games may have taken place.
"But the discovery of the third chain block put that suggestion almost beyond doubt. I dare say that people met a rather brutal end in Chester's arena some 1,900 years ago."
The archaeologists also discovered the amphitheatre was a highly elaborate two-storey stone building similar to the Colosseum in Rome and the amphitheatre of El Djem, Tunisia.