A ROMAN road has been unearthed in the depths of Puddletown Forest.

Forestry workers discovered the 1,600-year-old remains of the road during clearance work.

A spokesman for the Forestry Commission said: “By clear felling a plantation of Norway Spruce fir trees in Puddletown Forest, the Forestry Commission has painstakingly uncovered one of the UK’s most remarkable sections of ancient Roman road.”

Now, in partnership with English Heritage, the Forestry Commission is undertaking an extensive restoration project to reveal the hidden archaeological treasure.

The 26-metre wide road is a combination of a central cobbled ‘street’, which would have been used for rapid troop movements, and outer ‘droving’ roads for livestock.

It is thought the road is part of the Ackling Dyke Roman Road, built to link Old Sarum (Salisbury) with the Roman fort at Exeter.

Pete Wilson, head of research policy (Roman archaeology) for English Heritage said: “Roman roads were built in support of the military and civilian administration of a newly conquered province.

“The well-preserved length surviving in Puddletown Forest pays eloquent testimony to the power and determination of the Romans to consolidate their new territory. The scale and solidity of their work has allowed the road to survive the 1,600 years since the end of Roman Britain.”

Previously a stretch of Roman road was uncovered running through Thorncombe Woods outside Dorchester.

Dorset Countryside’s inland team worked to clear the road, a scheduled ancient monument that runs through the woods and heathland made famous by Thomas Hardy as Egdon Heath.

Laurence Degoul, the Forestry Commission’s Wareham-based forester, said: “We are delighted with the results of this project.

“Work started last winter and we should see the final clearing of any remaining brash, plus the erection of some simple signage, imminently.

“Everyone involved – including our timber harvesting contractor Euroforest – has worked incredibly hard to ensure the archaeological significance of the area could be fully restored for local people to enjoy.”

She added: “We’re thrilled that local people can now find echoes of the Roman Empire and its engineering prowess hidden amongst the unassuming trees of Puddletown Forest.” An English Heritage spokesman said the organisation is ‘grateful’ for the Forestry Commission’s work.