WORKMEN building a patio on a family’s property have dug up bones from five human skeletons.

They were forced to stop work after making the grim find in the back garden of a house in High Street, Heytesbury.

Builder Robbie Kearney, 32, made the discovery while digging a soakaway hole for the patio drainage.

He said: “I found a few bones, which I assumed were animal bones and went down a bit further and found some more bones.

“Then I went a bit deeper and found a skull. That’s when I realised they were human remains.

“It came as a bit of a shock as I’ve never found a skull before,” said Mr Kearney, who works as a self-employed builder for Mouldings in South Newton.

He and his colleague Paul Tapper, 48, immediately stopped work and notified the property owner of their find.

It is believed the remains may be of three adults, one juvenile and a younger child. One of them is understood to be female.

Forensic experts are now working to establish the age of the bones, which police say could take several weeks.

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Local historian Joe Charlesworth said: “They are likely to be from a plague pit. Rumour has it that there are more in the village.”

Matthew and Amelia Jackson, who own the Georgian property where the bones were found, immediately called police and scenes of crime vehicles were seen outside their home.

Mr Jackson said: “It has certainly created some interest in the village.

“We have had workmen here since the beginning of last week building drainage and a soakaway in our lawn for a patio.

“The builders were digging up the lawn and made the discovery on Wednesday. We phoned the police who came out straight away.

“They were here on Thursday, along with forensic officers and one of the Wiltshire archaeologists came out.

“The remains have been sent away for carbon dating and it may be a while before we get the results.

“It’s all quite interesting. They mentioned the early medieval period, possibly the 5th century.”

The remains were found around 100 yards away from the 12th century church of St Peter and St Paul.

Sam Fox, director for place at Wiltshire Council, said: “On Monday we were made aware of the finding of human bones in the garden of a house in Heytesbury.

"Our archaeology team visited along with Wiltshire Police, and agreed that this is likely to be the disturbed remains of a number of graves from the early medieval period.

“From what our team have identified so far, these look like Christian graves representing people of different ages and of both genders, so they may represent the place where there had been an earlier church in Saxon or later times.

“Our archaeology team will be keeping an eye on further drainage work going on in the garden and will put together a report once the radiocarbon date has been confirmed by the Police forensic team.

"This is an exciting and unexpected discovery in an area that our archaeology team don’t often get an opportunity to investigate, and we look forward to further developments on this discovery.”

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: “Enquiries are being carried following the discovery of bones in the garden of an address in Heytesbury.

“A forensic archaeologist has been at the site, working to establish how old these remains are.

“The scientific dating of the bones found at an address in Heytesbury has not yet been completed.

“At this stage there is no evidence to suggest we are dealing with a crime scene.”

Mr Jackson said the remains would be treated with respect and will be reinterred once the carbon dating is complete.