A MISSING part in Colchester's history has been unearthed by archaeologists working on an excavation at Colchester Institute.

Major archaeological excavations are being undertaken at the college in advance of the £84 million redevelopment.

They have revealed the remains of a well-preserved Roman road, fronted on either side by small clay and timber buildings.

The road is believed to be the same one found six years ago during excavations on the site of St Mary's Hospital.

The Colchester campus of the college lies on the fringes of Hilly Fields, which is regarded as one of the most interesting and important areas in Colchester in archaeological terms.

The area was first excavated in the 1930s when it was found to have been a significant industrial site in the late Iron Age and early Roman period. However, the latest excavations show the site was more extensive than previously thought.

Philip Crummy, director of Colchester Archaeological Trust, said: "What is surprising is that it has a much more urban feel than expected.

"The road has a couple of side roads which separate the buildings. It is very similar to what was found at St Mary's. We had not expected the area to be quite so densely packed as it appears to be."

He added: "We had a void between St Mary's and Sheepen but we now have a road so we can link up what we know about the layout of the street plan and how people moved in the town centre. We are filling in important details in the plan of that part of the town."