ARCHAEOLOGISTS in Colchester have uncovered a major Roman find in the heart of the historic town.
The Head gate was one of the main Roman entrances to the ancient walled settlement and was situated where St John's Road, Crouch Street and Head Street now meet.
And on Saturday members of the Colchester Archaeological Trust (CAT) found the structure's central pier, proving that the gate had two arches and not one, as some people had speculated.
The Head gate was found at the south west of the ancient walled town, and fed a road that ran up what is now Head Street and then down what is now North Hill, at the bottom of which was another gate.
Across that road ran another east/west thoroughfare, which went from Balkerne Gate - part of which is still standing near the Mercury Theatre - down the High Street to a fourth gate.
Phillip Crummy, director of CAT, yesterday said the discovery of the Head gate's central pier was significant.
He said it was made while CAT was monitoring works on the road on behalf of BT and Lowery Ltd, who were fitting cables in the area.
Mr Crummy added the gate was probably built between 65 AD and 80 AD and was demolished in 1753.
“We dug a hole about three metres by two metres and found the central part of the gate,” he said.
“The part we have found is surprisingly well-preserved and was not very deep - we didn't think it would be so good. It stands to a height of about 400 millimetres and was not as deep as we might have expected.
“It was the chief gate in the medieval period, but what we see is Roman. It is a square block which would have been the central pier of a double-arched gate, which would have had a guardroom on top of it with a few windows.
“We were pretty sure we had found a small part of it in 1988, when a pavement was dug up, but this is now pretty definite.
“It is a very good find and we are very pleased. We would like to thanks BT and Lowery's for making it possible for us to do this.”