News (Ancient) First Archaeological finds revealed from Chester Northgate site including a gaming piece


Staff member
Archaeologists working on the £70m Chester Northgate construction site have discovered Roman artefacts including what is thought to be a rare gaming piece made from bone.

The lozenge-shaped gaming piece is highly polished, probably from use, is approximately 29mm long and features a common Roman decoration of a ring and dot motif.

Experts link this to the game of Ludus Latrunculorum, meaning the Game of Mercenaries, which was a two-player military strategy board game played throughout the Roman Empire, similar to draughts.

Finding it in part of a legionary barracks in Chester would back up this theory. Other artefacts found to date include another bone artefact, possibly a comb; a possible spearhead; and a pin or broach.


Housing estates going up can be bitter-sweet, we'll unearth things before carefully building over what remains of interest. I suppose leaving things for future digs with better tech and preservation tools is desirable too.

If they ever uncover a rulebook to ludus latrunculorum, I'd try it. I recall reading a quote from a classical author about the game and remember thinking it seemed quite tactical.
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Cívis Illústris
I must admit this:

"The new buildings have been carefully designed to avoid disturbance of archaeological remains as far as possible and..."

isn't explicitly a declaration of avoiding disturbance but I try to remain positive that that inspector of ancient monuments will do his bit.