REMNANTS of an original, strategic Roman road, once believed to be marched on by legionaries almost two thousand years ago, have been uncovered.

The discovery came during recent water network improvement works near Newbrough by Northumbrian Water during the start of its £55k investment scheme at Stanegate Roman Road, near Settlingstones, to help secure water supplies and provide clear, great-tasting tap water for generations to come.

The utility company called in its own experts and notified relevant authorities to record and help preserve this important, heritage finding.

"We are delighted to have uncovered this importance piece of hidden heritage and play our part in helping to protect it", said Northumbrian Water project manager Brian Hardy.

"We have successfully delivered our investment work, through the use of alternative methods and techniques, to not only enhance and future-proof our customers' water supplies but also protect this suspected integral part of surviving Roman archaeology."

The relic remnants of the road itself, monitored by Archaeological Research Services Ltd, pre-dates Hadrian's Wall and had forts along its length - within one day's march of each other. This is why the well-known fort at Vindolanda is sited south of Hadrian's Wall on the course of the Stanegate.

Philippa Hunter, senior projects officer at Archaeological Research Services Ltd, added: "While monitoring the excavation pit, our archaeologist identified a deposit of compacted cobbles thought to be the remains of the Roman road's foundations - it is believed to have been built by Agricola or his successors around 80 AD.

"Here, the road was constructed using rounded cobbles set in a layer measuring around 15cm deep, with around 25cm of gravel surfacing laid on top.

"Unfortunately, no dating evidence or finds have been recovered to confirm the precise date of the archaeological remains. However, given the location of the cobbles along the projected route of the Roman road and its depth below the modern road surface, we are confident the remains identified form an important part of the early northern Roman frontier."

Northumbrian Water Limited supplies 2.7 million customers in the North-East with both water and sewerage services, trading as Northumbrian Water.