HUMAN bones thought to date back to Roman times have been dug up by contractors working in the Mount area of York.

The bones, including jaw and leg bones, were discovered on Thursday night in a spoil heap and trench in Trentholme Drive by Dr Mike Heyworth, Director of the Council for British Archaeology, who happens to live nearby.

He called North Yorkshire Police, who came to the scene to check the bones had not been buried in recent times, and the York Archaeological Trust and City of York Council were also informed.

Dr Heyworth said the location was a known Roman burial area, and the trench should not have been dug without permission from the local authority and without an archaeologist present on site, and any finds of bones should have been immediately reported by the contractors.

He was concerned that a child could have come along and removed the bones, and that important archaeological information had been destroyed when the trench was dug.

A spokesman for Northern Powergrid said contractors had been working for the company in Trentholme Drive to replace or upgrade a link box in the power system.

He said they had obtained a permit from the council to carry out the work until August 1, and they had now been allowed to do more work around the link box but not to excavate any further without permission. He believed the contractors would have reported the bones find had they realised what they were.

A spokeswoman for City of York Council today said it had been investigating the incident in line with its procedures.

"It does appear that the works have encroached onto a small section of a known Roman burial area," she said.

"No major or lasting damage has been caused and the few bones which have been disturbed have been removed, are in safe keeping and will be reburied when it is safe to do so. We are happy that all necessary actions have been taken.”

A North Yorkshire Police spokesman confirmed that the matter had been investigated and officers were happy the bones were ancient, and the matter had been left in the hands of archaeologists.