CONSTRUCTION workers in Britain have accidentally unearthed remains of a previously unknown Roman fort under a bus station in Exeter in western England.
The fort is on the banks of the Exe River which flows into the English Channel a few miles to the south ... making the location of strategic importance.
Archaeologists have described the find, which occurred during redevelopment of the site in the Devon city, as important and unexpected.
A Roman ditch was first uncovered, 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 damage caused by bombing and modern concrete foundations.
“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.”