A SERIES of exciting Roman finds, including part of a chariot race day cup, have been made during archaeological excavations of the former Essex County Hospital site.

Digs at the site in Lexden Road, Colchester, have uncovered the ancient remains of Roman buildings and a possible tower, the Gazette can reveal.

The excavations have found a range of interesting artefacts including up to 18 Roman brick and tile built ovens and more than 50 Roman burials.

A large quantity of items including pottery and glass vessels, jewellery and tools made from metals and animal bone have also been dug up.

One of the most exciting discoveries has been a fragment of a cup decorated with the image of a racing chariot, which was likely to be a souvenir from a race day at Colchester’s Roman Circus, the only chariot racing arena in the country.

Gazette: Picture: Paul Starr PhotographyPicture: Paul Starr Photography

Last year, the Gazette exclusively revealed a section of Roman road has been discovered during the excavations of the site.

Read more: Ancient Roman ruins discovered during dig at former Essex County Hospital site

The archaeological digs are being undertaken as Essex Housing, the housing firm run by Essex County Council, is building 120 homes at the former hospital site.

The council has now stated it has been working with Colchester Archaeological Trust and has managed to display many of the items found at the Roman Circus Centre.

Adam Wightman, who is part of the trust and is directing the excavation, said: “We knew this was a very important site but we were surprised at how much Roman activity took place here.


“There is activity spanning the whole Roman period, so it’s quite a complex and very significant site which hasn’t disappointed so far.

“We have found evidence of a number of Roman buildings and we have got Masonry builds and this very interesting tower.

“A lot of the burials have grave goods in them including whole pots, jewellery and glass vessels. We can see the stain of coffins with the nails and are getting plenty of time to excavate further.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to see Roman activity which took place in this area. We are going to be digging for the next six months and are expecting to find lots more burials.”