STUDENTS have discovered a 4,000-year-old Bronze Age urn at the University of York’s new campus.

The students, from the Department of Archaeology, found the collared urn, which contained cremated remains, and another creation burial, at the site of the university’s £750 million campus expansion at Heslington East.

The find was removed from the dig undamaged by specialist conservators from York Archaeological Trust and the cremation was excavated from within the pot by Malin Holst, of York Osteoarchaeology Ltd, at the university’s archaeology laboratory at King’s Manor.

Malin Holst, who is also a teaching fellow at the University of York, said some of the fragments of bone which had survived the cremation process belonged to an infant, but full analysis of the pot and cremation is still underway.

Dr Cath Neal, from the university’s Department of Archaeology, said: “This is a very exciting and unexpected find as most of the features in the area investigated this year are from the Roman period, including evidence for timber buildings, hearths, furnaces and trackways.

“The urn was cracked in the ground, and covered in plaster of Paris for complete removal. It’s in pieces now, but it’s a lovely pot, even in pieces. I think there’s only been one found in York before, which was also found at Heslington East.”

Dr Neal said once a full analysis of the urn and its contents had taken place, she believed the pieces would be put back together, but did not know if they would be put on display.

Digs at the Heslington East site has already uncovered the remains of an Iron Age skull and brain, found in 2008, with brain matter in the skull which dated back about 2,500 years, making it one of the oldest surviving brains in Europe.

Dr Neal will lead a community excavation on the Heslington East campus from June 21 to July 1.