Lost Roman Legionary
by Carole H Sexton
IN a city as ancient as Chester it would be surprising if echoes
of its colourful and historic past did not reverberate down the
centuries through its street and buildings. One such building built
in more modern times, but with a strange legacy of days gone-by
is the 'George and Dragon', the public house situated at the junction
of Parkgate and Liverpool Roads. This hostelry boasts a ghost said
to be that of a lone Roman soldier who paces its precincts eternally.
We may ask why should the solitary soldier revisit this particular
spot? Chester was, of course, a fortress town filled once with such
men, but the site of the 'George and Dragon', is outside the Decumana,
or North Gate. This area was in fact, some 16-18 centuries ago a
burial ground. As the Romans always laid their dead to rest outside
the city walls, this upper part of Parkgate Road, would therefore,
have been lined with elaborate memorials to deceased citizens. There
does, however, exist several popular versions of the soldiers unhappy
The first, and possibly less romantic story is that this poor man
was a sentry who was never relieved from his post. As a true Roman
would never question orders, he patrolled on presumably, until death
overcome him. This does seem most unlikely though, why was he stationed
so far outside the North Gate?, and why, indeed was he never relieved.
Another version, perhaps slightly more believable, certainly more
interesting concerns an ill fated love affair. A Roman soldier fell
in love with a beautiful Welsh girl. While on sentry duty at the
North Gate he was in the habit of slipping off beyond the walls
to meet his love. This young lady was not what she seemed however.
One night while she occupied the sentry a raiding party led by her
outlaw brothers gained entry into the garrison, massacring many
of its complement of soldiers who were sleeping in their beds.
The hapless soldier would have certainly been executed after such
a dereliction of duty. For this transgression of the strict Roman
code of honour and obedience there would be no mercy. The unfortunate
man perhaps even took his own life out of remorse, before justice
could claim him.
The ghost of the sentry is now, said to pass backwards and forwards
through the walls of the 'George and Dragon', never seen, only heard,
forever pacing, to this day. Ass a honourable burial would not have
been afforded him, perhaps the soldier seeks his rest at the site
of the former cemetery. On the other hand, he could be seeking his
murdered comrades to ask their forgiveness. Whatever the reason
for his wanderings, he remains the lost legionary.
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