Evidence of Roman industry found in Essex

By Kirstie Brewer | 23 September 2009
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large pieces of broken pottery decorated with patterns

(Above) Remains of Roman pottery thought to have been used to contain and transport salt. Oxford Archaeology

Archaeologists have unearthed 2,000-year-old Roman remains at one of this year’s biggest excavations, close to the proposed new London Gateway port in Mucking Creek, Essex.

A team of 36 archaeologists, who are investigating a site 30 times the size of Trafalgar Square to the East of central London, made the find.

Experts believe it to be a 4th Century Roman "hearth structure kiln", which would have been used by specialist craftsmen using lead pans to heat saltwater.

Other wooden structures unearthed at the site include a boathouse and roundhouse, dating back to between 40 BC and 240 AD.

Using modern technology, the land is being investigated after experts recently discovered Iron Age and Roman salt-making sites, thought to be some of the earliest pieces of evidence of industrial activity in Britain.

Four very old and corroded coins

4th century Roman coins thought to have been dropped by workers on the site. Oxford Archaeology

"The peak of Roman salt industry in the 1st and 2nd century AD coincides with the early development of London as a city," said Katrina Anker, from diggers Oxford Archaeology.

"Salt would have been a very important commodity for people living in this boom location. The dig has provided a number of important finds that reveal the rich history of the area."

Following the archaeological dig, a new specially protected area for wildlife and rare birds will be created on the site as part of the environmental compensation for London Gateway Port.

Interesting discoveries from the site will be exhibited at local museums and used as an educational tool to show people what the area would have looked like 2,000 years ago. The search for Roman relics continues.

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