THE secret history of Brentwood is being uncovered after a medieval building was unearthed deep beneath the High Street.

The town centre may have been a mecca of inns and taverns attending to the whims of travellers to and from London in the 13th and 14th century, according to Colchester Archaeological Trust.

The team of archaeologists were drafted in as part of plans to develop offices into a new Costa coffee shop.

Dig director Adam Whiteman said: “We have found probably two medieval buildings side by side with a carriageway going between them.

“We believe them to be from the 13th to 14th century – even earlier.

“So far from the excavation we date the building right the way up until the Victorian era.

“It’s likely there will be many more of these types of remains throughout the High Street.”

One of the buildings is only around six feet across fronting the High Street, and among the items found are pottery, coins, thimbles and bone handles.

Research will now begin to paint a more accurate picture of the historic site.

Mr Whiteman continued: "We’ve discovered lots of medieval ovens.

“Maybe they would have been making their own bread - and it might point to the fact that it was the remains of a coach house.

"That is the kind of thing we are looking at – carts going through the carriageway off the High Street and parking up at the courtyard at the back.”

The High Street is built on the line of the Roman road from Colchester to London, and later formed part of the main Colchester to London road.

In the days of horse-drawn transport Brentwood was a transport hub, a route to stop for medieval pilgrims on their way to the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury, later becoming a major coaching station.

After visiting the site and being shown the archaeological finds that have been discovered, the Leader of Brentwood Borough Council, Councillor Louise McKinlay, said: “It was fascinating to see what is possibly the remains of 12th Century timber buildings and hear how they identify the historical building layers on this significant site in the Conservation Area.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the final report which will tell us if these are possibly the oldest buildings in Brentwood”.