A SECTION of Roman road has been uncovered during an archaeological dig at the former Essex County Hospital site in Colchester.

Essex Housing, the housing firm run by Essex County Council, is building 120 new homes at the Lexden Road site.

The plans, which were approved last year, proved controversial as they only featured four affordable homes and concerns were raised over the design and parking provision.

Now, information given exclusively to the Gazette has revealed a section of Roman road has been discovered during excavations.

Calls have now been made by Colchester’s High Steward, Sir Bob Russell, to halt the development and allow new plans to be drawn up for it to be placed under a protective glass screen so it can serve as a tourist attraction.

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Sir Bob said he had been contacted by someone who was concerned at the potential loss of the rare Roman remains.

Colchester is rich in Roman artefacts including the foundations of a Roman theatre found 40 years ago in Maidenburgh Street.

Following this, the development of homes was halted and new plans saw a section of the theatre made visible for people to view through windows.

The only Roman Circus in Britain was uncovered near Abbey Fields in 2004 and, as a result, housing has been kept away from being built over the remains.

The Berryfield Mosaic, which dates back to AD150, was also relaid inside the Firstsite gallery.

It was unearthed in 1923 and was originally part of the dining room floor in a Roman town house where the gallery now stands.

Sir Bob said: “I am disappointed with Essex County Council. They should follow the good example set by Colchester Council with the Roman theatre all those years ago.”

A spokesman for Essex Housing confirmed the archaeological remains of part of a Roman road had been discovered during excavations at the former hospital site.

He added: “Essex Housing is working with experts from the Colchester Archaeological Trust to record the find in detail and a soft layer is set to be installed above the Roman road’s surface in order to preserve it.”