ANCIENT remains have been unearthed as part of the £1.5billion port project in Stanford-le-Hope.

A team of 40 archaeologists have discovered a salt extraction site dating back 2,000 years to the Iron Age as part of the excavation work.

The remains, including buildings, pottery, money and animal bones, were discovered by archaeologists working for port developers DP World.

The company is planning to build the new London Gateway port as the UK’s first major deep sea port for a number of years.

Marcus Pearson, environment manager at London Gateway, said discoveries at the site will be on show at local museums.

He said: “The excavation is one of the largest to be investigated by archaeologists in Essex for over 100 years.

“We will also be using the discoveries as an educational aid to show local school children what the area used to look like and making a short video to document the findings.”

Experts from Oxford Archaeology have been working on an area of farmland next to Mucking Creek, three miles away from the proposed dock, which was compulsory purchased by DP World and is to be flooded to make a new mudflat for wildlife.

Katrina Anker, from Oxford Archaeology, said: “The site provides a unique history into late Iron Age and Roman salt-making, which was an important industry in the Thames Estuary between 2,300 and 1,700 years ago.

“The peak of the Roman salt industry in the 1st and 2nd century AD coincides with the early development of London as a city.”

The work has to be done to compensate for mudflats lost when the Thames is dredged to allow for bigger ships.

In a few weeks time their work will then be filled in and the sea wall breached by the end of the year.

Work on the port itself has been delayed as DP World is undertaking a major internal review due to the recession.