A 2,000-YEAR-OLD Roman salthouse has been discovered during archaeological excavations at the planned £1.5billion port at Coryton.

Archaeologists who made the find on the 34-acre site are set to unveil the full extent of the discovery on Tuesday, September 15.

The site where the mine was found is due to become a wildlife area, protecting a range of birds, animals and plants to offset any disruption caused during the construction of the port.

Xavier Woodward, a spokesman for DP World – which is the global company behind the port development – confirmed a Roman salt roundhouse had been discovered. He said: “The find has not been classed as of national significance, but is of regional value.

“It was discovered there was a Roman salthouse on the mudflats. The mudflats would be left covered in salt as tides went in and out and this would be collected and shipped to London. It was quite a valuable commodity at the time and a key industry for Essex.”

The site will soon be filled in and the seawall broken to create the wildlife wetland.

The port would be the UK’s first deep sea port and is the most significant UK port development for 20 years.

Work to dredge the estuary in order to deepen it for supertankers has not yet begun, although it was planned to begin in March.

The hold-up has been blamed on the economic recession and a drop in the container trade. When it is built by the Dubai-based company it is expected to create more than 12,000 jobs.