FURTHER evidence of Roman barracks has been found during an excavation outside a theatre.

During the final week of the dig at the Mercury Theatre, the Colchester Archaeological Trust has made another discovery.

Two barrack block walls, built by the Romans around 40 AD, have been found.

Philip Crummy, director of the trust, said: “Discoveries of great interest have a habit of turning up at the last minute on our archaeological excavations.

“We expected the remains of the walls would be below those tessellated Roman floors we have been uncovering.

“In fact, we even knew to the metre where on the site the walls would lie but it was great to find them and confirm they really were there and in the ‘right’ place.

“Our work on the main excavations at the Mercury Theatre finally finished as we covered the site with a thick layer of protective sand. This measure was in anticipation of the start of the piling works.”

There is a chance the Roman floors found previously could be damaged when renovation works start at the theatre.

Mr Crummy said: “The remains of the barrack blocks lie about a metre below the floors so they should survive indefinitely under the new build.

“However, the floors and all the remains under them will be damaged where the piles for the new building pass through them.

“To mitigate this problem, we have excavated to a depth of about a metre the locations where the piles are be driven so we can record what will be lost.

“This process gave us the opportunity to find and record the military walls.”

The outline and extent of the Roman fortress has been known since the 1970s.

Later archaeological work, especially at the Culver Square site and Colchester Sixth Form College in 1980s, has firmed up and improved the detail.

Mr Crummy added: “In AD 43, the emperor travelled to Britain to lead army into Camulodunum where he took the submission of a number of British kings.

“Our fortress was built shortly afterwards by the men of the Twentieth Legion.

“The submission and the subsequent construction of the fortress were key parts of the story of not only Roman Colchester but the Roman conquest of Britain itself.”

Archaeologists will carry out more excavations on a different part of the site.