HISTORY lovers were given a final chance to catch a glimpse of Roman remains before they are recorded and covered up again.

Experts from the Colchester Archaeological Trust have been excavating an area of land behind the Mercury Theatre in Colchester before redevelopment works starts as part of the £9 million Mercury Rising project.

The area is rich in Roman remains and archaeologists have made several interesting finds.

In the past few weeks, they have found more Roman floors and rooms along with evidence of Roman central heating and other interesting artefacts.

A skeleton was also found on site recently, which was part of a Christian burial.

The history hunters have also found:

  • a Roman bone dice
  • a medieval candle holder
  • a musket ball from the 17th to 18th century which could have come from the Siege of Colchester
  • a Roman bone hair pin
  • a bell from the mid 1500s which would have been used as decoration on an animal harness

Residents were invited to take a free visit to the site to see what has been discovered before the dig finished on Saturday.

Adam Wightman, who is a member of the site team, showed some of the visitors around.

He said: “We have found more of the same building and an extension of the corridor of that building, plus more rooms and a tessellated red cube floors.

“The floors of the building with all the little cubes look really impressive and they are instantly recognisable so people are generally very excited to see a piece of Roman floor underneath their feet.”

He said all the items found were between the first and second century, right up to the 1700s - so some of the items are more than 1,000 years old.

Over the three days members of the public were invited to attend, queues of onlookers hoped to catch a glimpse of the items and even hold some of them.

Adam said it was a successful event to end the period of excavation.

He added: “We constantly had people coming along to see the items, it was really impressive.

“There was also, of course, the walls and floors which are all Roman.”

Now the dig has been completed, building work will begin as part of the theatre’s Mercury Rising renovation project.

The project will see the theatre become more accessible to everyone and there will be a new café and upgraded equipment.

Phelan Construction, the company leading on the development, also encouraged the next generation of archaeologists when they hosted a visit from pupils at Layer-de-la-Haye Primary School.

The children have been studying Romans at school and the visit helped them with their studies.