Two sets of human remains have been unearthed by workmen digging at a property in York.

The grim discovery was made when contractors unearthed what was thought to have been a human skull after they began clearance work at private premises in Lansdowne Terrace, off James Street.

Forensic police teams examined the scene but eventually determined the remains to be historic and handed the investigation over to York Archaeological Trust.

Martin Stockwell, field manager at the trust, said he believed the remains were located in a huge burial ground which would have been part of a former medieval church in what is now the James Street area.

He said: “The builders have been doing some work there to build a new extension and located some human remains.

“We think this may have been part of St Edward’s Church which was located on the site.

“It was a medieval parish church taken down in the early 1500s.

“When they constructed Lansdowne Terrace, there is a story of the contractor who was carrying out the work finding a tonne of human remains so it looks like there was an extensive burial ground there.”

Mr Stockwell said the remains consisted of two partial bodies and he confirmed that a skull had been found.

Yesterday a team of trust archaeologists were still at the site.

“We are obtaining a licence from the Ministry of Justice for the removal of the remains. After a period of time for research, they will be taken to a place of burial,” said Mr Stockwell The find is the latest in a string of historical burials which have been discovered in York. The city recently became the focus of international attention when the remains of a number of Roman skeletons, believed to be gladiators, were discovered in the Holgate area.