RARE Roman finds will go on display as part of an exhibition to showcase the ongoing excavation of one of Colchester’s most important archaeological sites.

The exhibition, titled Colchester’s Street of Tombs, will take place at the Roman Circus Centre, in Roman Circus Walk, next month and features discoveries made during the dig at the old Essex County Hospital site, in Lexden Road.

The Colchester Archaeological Trust, which is based at the circus centre, has led the excavations at the site, where Essex County Council’s housing firm Essex Housing is set to build 120 new homes.

Since the dig began finds have included 12 Roman pottery kilns and a mysterious small square building with foundations about a metre across.

A specialist from Bradford University has been called in to test samples of burnt bricks in order to date the structures.

Archaeologists also found the skeletal remains of a young woman - buried face down in a shallow grave with the remains of young baby nearby.

The trust uncovered evidence of small-scale Roman-period sand and gravel extraction, which is likely linked to the permanent closure of the Roman road between Balkerne Gate and London.

Philip Crummy, director of Colchester Archaeological Trust, said: “This site is a special place because it is where the Colchester Sphinx was discovered in 1819 when the hospital was being built.

“For years afterwards, the Sphinx could be seen on display inside the building until, in 1860, it was donated to the town and took pride of place in the Castle Museum.

“As archaeologists, we are lucky to have the opportunity to investigate such a key and interesting site. Hopefully lots of people will come to the circus visitor centre to see for themselves how the story unfolds.”

Gwyn Owen, head of Essex Housing, added: “We’re delighted the proposed redevelopment of the Essex County Hospital site has facilitated the discovery of some really interesting Roman finds and the opportunity for the trust to hold a public exhibition about the excavation.”

“We always knew the site could have a rich archaeological value and these finds have confirmed that.”

While the exhibition will focus on the excavation at the former Essex County Hospital site, it will also highlight work at the nearby Colchester Grammar School site going back 150 years.

Excavations are set to be completed by the end of July and Colchester’s Street of Tombs runs from August 8 to September 26.

Visit thecolchesterarchaeologist.co.uk.