CHESTER has a long and fascinating history, dating from the arrival of the Roman army around AD 74. Their fortress was the stimulus for the growth of a prosperous town with such attributes of classical civilisation as bathhouses, central heating and an amphitheatre. The fifth-century collapse was followed by expansion under Saxon Mercia, and the threat of Viking attack was countered by the creation of a burh. Chester prospered as an administrative and trading settlement, ultimately benefiting from commercial contacts with the Viking world. After the Norman Conquest, it became the capital of a powerful earldom and later Edward I's headquarters for his conquest of North Wales. A large abbey dominated the centre and swathes of land were enclosed in friary precincts. After the Middle Ages the city lost its harbour to silting and then endured a long and damaging siege during the Civil War. It escaped full-scale industrial expansion, although it did suffer from the accompanying problems of increasing population and poor housing. In the twentieth century the decision over whether to preserve or replace its historic core gave the city fathers one of their greatest challenges. Chester was for many centuries the major urban centre in north-west England. Despite its varying fortunes the city has never ceased to engage in the trade and commerce that have given the place its own special identity. This beautifully illustrated book explores the city through the ages and looks at the activities of the people who contributed to its intriguing story. Archaeologists and historians have attempted to throw light on those lives and the author has drawn widely from their work, as well as his own, besides using the surviving historic fabric of the city, to create a book that will appeal to both resident and visitor.