ARCHAEOLOGISTS have unearthed ancient human remains and evidence of a medieval church on the site of a new extra care scheme.

The discovery in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, has been described as an "intriguing conundrum" by experts.

Tests and further digging is now underway to learn more about the finds in a field being developed by Broadacres housing association.

Nick Pearson, director of York-based On-Site Archaeology, which was brought in by Broadacres to monitor the building work, stressed that it was early days and so far little was known about the discovery.

However, he added: "It's an intriguing conundrum and puzzle for us made all the more interesting because very little archaeology has emerged so far in Leyburn.

"At the top of the slope there appears to be an enclosure within which is a stone structure which is aligned east to west and features two rooms, one of which is smaller than the other."

Mr Pearson believes the rooms could be a nave and chancel from a church.

The archaeologist said they had not found any sign of a church at the site on maps or records for the town, but believed it could date back to the early medieval period.

The experts are now hoping to date the church more accurately and will be looking for any fragments of pottery or other artefacts nearby.

One theory is that it is a chapel related to a long-demolished nearby manor.

Two skeletons have also been discovered, both of which were found in a crouching position.

However, it is not thought they had a connection to the church and may date back as far as the bronze age, which began in Europe in 3200BC.

Mr Pearson said they hoped to find out as much as possible about the discoveries for the benefit of the local community.

A spokesman for Broadacres described it as an "exciting find" and said they hoped local school children could be invited to the site off Harmby Road to view the remnants of the church in coming weeks.

He added: "Today, 75 per cent site of the site has been cleared so work can continue in this section, while archaeologists continue to investigate the uncleared part of the site.

"At his stage we don't believe this will delay the scheme but we are keen to ensure this matter is handled sensitively and with respect."

Earlier tests at the field before the builders moved in revealed trace of cyanide, however officials said there was no danger to the public.