A Roman cemetery dating back to the third and fourth century AD has been discovered by archaeologists beneath the demolished St Mary's hopital.

Colchester Archaeological Trust has unearthed the graves of about 30 former Colcestrians as they investigate before the site is redeveloped.

Among the tombs were a number of distinctive individuals and a pair of adolescents, probably young women, buried together in the same grave, with matching hair pins and glass items.

Face from the past - site digger Mike Ripley with one of the unearthed Roman skeletons

Stephen Benfield, the field archaeologist overseeing the dig by the Colchester Archaeological Trust said: "I think they must have been buried at the same time and I suppose they could have been sisters."

Burials in wooden coffins such as those discovered at St Mary's are typical of the later Roman period when early Roman cremations became less popular.

Published Monday August 26, 2002

Brought to you by the Evening Gazette