A Roman fort has been discovered under where thousands of us have walked in Exeter city centre

A Roman fort has been discovered under where thousands of us have walked in Exeter city centre

A Roman fort has been discovered under where thousands of us have walked in Exeter city centre

A Roman fortress was erected in Exeter in about AD55.

Under the bus stop of Exeter, the remains of a Roman fort have been found.

The finds which took place during the reconstruction of the site in Devon town have been defined by archeologists as significant and unexpected.

First, a Roman ditch was revealed, with further excavations revealing two more ditches running parallel to each other.

These belonged to a previously unknown military site, which was either a fort occupied by an army unit or a defended compound.

Coins and pottery made in the area for the troops, as well as fine red Samian tableware imported from France, were also discovered.

The find was made by Cotswold Archaeology, which is working with Kier, the construction company, in the run-up to the renovation of a bus station and leisure complex.

Andrew Pye, an archaeology officer at Exeter city council, said: “This is a very important, and completely unexpected, discovery, in an area that has been heavily changed by previous postwar redevelopment.

“Along with other recent work in Exeter, it demonstrates just how much of the city’s history can still survive in unlikely places, despite the damage caused by bombing and modern concrete foundations.

The discovery was made by Cotswold Archaeology, which is working on the site with Kier, a construction firm.

“This discovery of yet another new Roman fort within the city does demonstrate, along with that of the fortress and baths back in the 1970s and of several other new major military sites in the last decade, just how pivotal a role the Exeter area played in the first decades of the Roman conquest and subjugation of Britain.”

The council said archaeological work at the site, between Bampfylde Street and Cheeke Street, would not affect the construction timetable.

A Roman fortress was erected in Exeter in about AD55, with a civilian town later established there as the regional capital of south-west England.

A Roman coin discovered at the site.

The fortress and its bathhouse were discovered under the Cathedral Green in the 1970s and more recent work has uncovered other finds in the city. These include large buildings, forts, and military depots.

Roman Exeter
Exeter now. It’s Roman walls remain.

Derek Evans, the fieldwork project manager at Cotswold Archaeology’s Exeter office, said: “The unexpected nature of this discovery and the significance of uncovering previously undocumented Roman military features in this area of the city have made this a challenging and interesting project.

“We look forward to undertaking further analysis of the finds and other material recovered during our works and refining the story of the site’s history.”

The current bus station was constructed in the early 1960s. Any remains would have been destroyed at the time because there was no planning requirement for developers to record such discoveries.

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