ARCHAEOLOGISTS are investigating a mystery Roman building underneath the Dewa Roman Experience premises in the city centre.
They will tunnel through the brickwork and sandstone blocks above the Roman foundations of the secret building and into the void behind.
There are plans for a 58-bed hotel at the Pierpoint Lane site, off Bridge Street, but any significant structures and finds will be accommodated within the design, possibly through the use of glass floors.
Archaeologist Mike Emery said: “It’s something substantial but we don’t know that is. It has been suggested it might be Roman hospital but no-one quite knows.
“We will be literally tunnelling into the dark.”
The Dewa Roman Experience, popular for school visits, already features exposed archaeological trenches from 1991 including remnants of the Roman fortress, plus Saxon and medieval remains including a Tudor footpath and road.
A collection of artefacts from the Chester site and the wider Roman Empire is on permanent display.
Michael Lancaster, manager of the attraction, said there would be ‘a monumental effort’ to retain the archaeological remains within a hotel or separate museum depending on future plans.
Planning permission was granted in December, 2008, for a three to five storey hotel with 58 bedrooms, together with shops and a restaurant on the ground floor.
The number of rooms had been reduced from an earlier scheme, as had the size of the building and the overall design had changed.
However, the planning committee heard there were several important legal issues which needed to be resolved involving the owners of an adjacent building.