On the sandstone outcrop towards the centre of the park is the Roman shrine to the goddess Minerva. It is carved into the rock face and is now the only monument of its kind in Western Europe that remains in its original location.
Minerva was the Roman goddess of war, knowledge, learning, craftsmanship and the arts. She would, therefore, have been seen as an important protector of the Romans working in the quarry.
The carving has weathered over time so that the figure of the goddess is now only a faint outline. Also, it has been subject to some pretty harsh treatment over the years. This has included it being accidentally hit by practice rifle shooting during the Second World War, for which it still bears pit marks. It is said that the shrine might only have survived the Middle Ages because it was thought to be an image of the Virgin Mary.
In Roman times Minerva's characteristic war-like clothing -helmet, spear and shield - together with her symbol of an owl would have been very obvious and probably painted. Offerings would have been left at the shrine to gain help and protection possibly on an altar at its base.
Next to the carving is an opening into the rock face. This is possibly a natural fissure that was enlarged after the shrine was cut. It is now known as 'Edgar's Cave'.
If you are interested in finding out more about Chester (Deva) in Roman times - including a chance to see some carved Roman gravestones - visit the Grosvenor Museum, and its Webster Roman Stone Gallery.
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