Property developer Weston Homes found historic artefacts dating back to the Roman era at its construction site in Barking, London, adjacent to the ruins of Barking Abbey, once considered an important religious centre.
Weston is looking to regenerate a six-acre retail park in Barking into a development called Abbey Quays, which it described as a £350m ($455m) riverside urban-village.
The developer said it appointed a specialist team to unearth the findings during the early stages of construction and have since been funding the excavation.
The artefacts are in the process of being recorded by historical experts. It is believed that the findings will lead to some academic rethinking on what occurred in Barking during the Roman, Saxon and Medieval periods, Weston said in a statement.
The excavation found two small buildings which likely date back to the early Medieval period under the Saxons. A smaller structure has also been found, which may have been used to dry or smoke fish for banquets at Barking Abbey.
Other historically important findings include a finely carved bone spoon, likely to be early Medieval in date and appears to have come from Europe, possibly Scandinavia.
Weston Homes is working with Historic England, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and their own archaeological team to find a way to showcase the findings.
Possible ideas include building glass flooring in the new Abbey Quays development which will allow visitors to look at the ruins.
Bob Weston, Chairman at Weston Homes said: “It is exciting to know that we have found several important pieces of British history that will help to shape our understanding of the early Anglo-Roman and Medieval eras.”
“Weston Homes are committed to ensuring that the historic findings at Barking are rightfully protected and preserved,” he added.
The new development will cover will provide 1,089 new homes, a new riverside restaurant, a gym and a community hall. The scheme is located within a public area that includes public artwork, landscaping, a riverside walkway and a waterside plaza, Weston said.