Disease, Doctors and Dying in the Roman World

‘In Good Humour: Disease, Doctors and Dying in the Roman World’ is a new exhibition at the Grosvenor Museum organised by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Museum Service in partnership with award-winning heritage agency, Big Heritage.

It has drawn together a number of internationally important objects loaned to the city’s museum from national and local museums. The display explores social attitudes to disease, illness and injury in the Roman world, as well as highlighting the lasting impact Rome had upon ideas of hygiene, public health and medicine.

The exhibition was the idea of Chester-based Big Heritage who were the organisers of the popular Chester Unlocked and are currently running an exciting community archaeology project on Deanery Field.

Company founder Dean Paton said: “We have been running an award-winning project focusing on Roman medicine and supported by Wellcome Trust for a number of years, and this exhibition is now allowing us share our knowledge and expertise in this area through a static display of some stunning artefacts. We have worked extremely hard alongside West Cheshire Museum’s curators to convince the right people that Chester is the city to host this event and this hard work has paid off. The resulting exhibition is a triumph.”

Elizabeth Montgomery, Dr Ralph Jackson and Dean Paton (1)
Elizabeth Montgomery, Grosvenor Museum, Dr Ralph Jackson, world leading Roman medicine expert from the British Museum and Dean Paton at the exhibition launch

Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member for Communities and Wellbeing added: “The exhibition is a unique opportunity to explore the fascinating world of Roman medicine with a collection of objects from across the Roman Empire brought together in one place for the first time. The additional element of new scientific analysis on our skeletal remains, commissioned by Big Heritage, has enabled us to unpick the fascinating stories of the lives of former inhabitants of Chester which would have otherwise have remained untold.


“There are also a number of engaging plans in place to take the exhibition to the streets of Chester and beyond.”

Alongside international objects, there is a strong Chester theme to the display, with Big Heritage funding scientific analysis of parts of the collections, including the Castle Well skeleton, a Roman man whose body was discovered by archaeologists in the 1970s. The results of this analysis, which has been described as ‘exciting and unexpected’, are presented for the first time in the exhibition.

The exhibition is open until 6 November and is supported by a full programme of events including street theatre, craft activities, talks and object displays in the museum and across the city. For further details, please visit www.westcheshiremuseums.co.uk .

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