ANCIENT Roman kilns have been discovered on a 74-acre plot of land which the council is transforming into a nature reserve.
Cymbeline Meadows, which currently includes riverside grazing meadows and woodland, is on track to become a mosaic of habitats designed to increase biodiversity and attract a wide range of wildlife.
The site has long been known to have significant archaeological value, however, and archaeological excavations have been undertaken to ensure the planting of 8,000 trees and 3,500 plants would not damage any hidden underground archaeology.
The Colchester Archaeological Trust, which was commissioned to carry out an excavation and asessment of the site, has uncovered the kilns so trees can be planted in other parts of the meadow.
Kilns were previously discovered in Cymbeline Meadows in 1969 and 1970, with the most recent project having started in August and lasted 15 days.
During that time, 61 trenches were dug in the areas of proposed planting and landscaping, with each trench measuring 30 metres in length and 1.8 metres in width.
The eventual plans for Cymbeline Meadows involve creating 0.4 hectares of wetland, 1.8 hectares of natural scrubland, and more than seven hectares of tree planting.
There will also be a an area for winter bird seed, and about 580 metres of hedgerow.
Andrea Luxford Vaughan, Colchester Council’s portfolio holder for planning, environment and sustainability, said it was important to ensure archaeological remains were protected before the biodiversity project continued.
She said: “This is an exciting project that will transform Cymbeline Meadows into a haven for wildlife.
“We are committed to preserving and enhancing biodiversity in Colchester, and this is a major step forward in that goal.
“We have worked closely with Colchester Archaeological Trust to ensure that any archaeological remains are protected.”
Adam Wightman, excavation manager at Colchester Archaeological Trust, added: “Excavating the kilns themselves is an expensive and destructive process.
“We are preserving the town’s heritage for the future and we have a better understanding and now we can work to protect it.
“Everyone would love to see a big excavation, but we only really do that when something is under threat or damage and being destroyed.”