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Roman ruins found during excavation of Jacks building in Colchester

PUBLISHED: 17:39 01 August 2019 | UPDATED: 17:39 01 August 2019

Alec Wade standing on top of a massive foundation (five to seven foot wide) which was part of the Roman public baths at Colchester. Picture: COLCHESTER ARCHAEOLOGICAL TRUST

Alec Wade standing on top of a massive foundation (five to seven foot wide) which was part of the Roman public baths at Colchester. Picture: COLCHESTER ARCHAEOLOGICAL TRUST

Archant

An exciting Roman discovery has been made in the heart of Colchester during the excavation and refurbishment of one of the town's most famous buildings.

Laura Pooley holding a fragment of a box flue from the Roman public baths at Colchester. Picture: COLCHESTER ARCHAEOLOGICAL TRUSTLaura Pooley holding a fragment of a box flue from the Roman public baths at Colchester. Picture: COLCHESTER ARCHAEOLOGICAL TRUST

A range of roman artefacts were discovered by experts during the regeneration of the former Jacks hardware store in the Essex town, which has recently been developed into Three Wise Monkeys bar the new home for Other Monkey Brewing.

During excavation work by the Colchester Archaeological Trust (CAT), several important archaeological discoveries were made beneath the 15th Century building - the major one being the remains of a significant Roman bath house.

Hollow ceramic flues were found that would have been used to line the walls and floors of the 'hot room', the 'warm room' and sauna-like room - all essential components of substantial Roman baths - so that hot air could circulate and heat the spaces.

Several other artefacts were also discovered, confirming to archeologists that the buried building was used as a bath house in Roman times adding to previous discoveries of a 120-meter-long arcade, a fortress and an amphitheatre in Colchester.

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Deputy Leader of Colchester Borough Council, Julie Young, said: "This is a hugely important discovery for Colchester, as another piece of the fascinating jigsaw puzzle that is our wonderful Roman history falls into place with the significant discovery of this ancient bath house."

Philip Crummy of the Colchester Archaeological Trust, added: "Major Roman towns across the Roman Empire shared the same suite of public buildings and services.

"We already knew that Roman Colchester had a theatre (two in fact), many temples, a forum, a circus, town walls, a pressurised water supply, and a robust public drainage system.

"To this impressive list, we can now add a major public bath house."

Due to the cramped nature of the excavations, underneath the Jacks Building, the public will not be able to see the artefacts in situ.

However, the Colchester Archaeological Trust will be creating a temporary exhibition of the historic Roman artefacts at the Roman Circus Centre, starting on August 6, with the objects on display until the centre closes on September 28.

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