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Chester Wall (1984)

Chester is one of two cities in England renowned for their Roman walls. The Romans built Castra Devana as a garrison for the 20th Legion, from which they could defend Roman territory from hostile Celts. Castra was the Roman term for a fortified military camp. Old English borrowed it as ceaster (pronounced “chester”), meaning “settlement.” That word disappeared from the language after the Norman invasion, replaced by the French city. But the discarded word still remains in place names like Chichester, Manchester, Lancaster, and Worcester, all of which started out as Roman military camps.

Chester was a strategic port on the River Dee, so the walls were necessary to protect the city from invaders. The river eventually silted up, and the walls turned from a fortification to a place for hordes of “invading” tourists to walk.

Unlike all the other pictures on the “Europe Through the Front Door” pages, I used color negative film in a 35mm point-and-shoot camera for this one. I had retired my Pocket Instamatic 60 two years before, when Kodak discontinued 110-format slide film. I also wasn’t on a trip with my parents. But since I was on a thoroughly conventional motorcoach tour, this picture properly belongs in the “Europe Through the Front Door” collection.


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