Remains of a huge, 2,000-year-old Roman theatre, thought to be the first of its kind in Britain, have been discovered in Kent. Paul Wilkinson, director of the nearby Kent Archaeological Field School, and his team uncovered the remains of a cockpit-style outdoor auditorium built into a hillside in Faversham. Around 150 such theatres have been discovered across northern Europe, according to Wilkinson, but the remains are the first to be found in the UK. In addition to the orchestra pit – in which choruses would have performed – the ruins also include a narrow stage, featuring holes that are thought to have allowed flooding for aquatic displays. The theatre could have housed audiences of up to 12,000 people in 50 rows of seats over an area 65 metres in diameter. The site, which shows activity dating back as far as the bronze age, was probably used for religious festivals in which two nearby bathhouses, also uncovered by Wilkinson's team, would have played a part. Wilkinson told industry publication The Stage:

"This is important for Roman archaeology because this is the first theatre of its type found in Britain. Therefore it shows that architectural practices in continental Europe at the time did seep over into Britain."

Investigations at the site began in 2007, though findings were only recently announced. Wilkinson, who has submitted an application for it to become an ancient monument site with English Heritage, added:

"We haven't even begun to touch on the amount of archaeology which is there."

"If the full analysis of the results does confirm that the site on the outskirts of Faversham is a Roman rural theatre, it would be a most remarkable find," said Debbie Hickman, a spokesperson for English Heritage.

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