THE owner of a house where a ‘human’ skull was dug up during building work has spoken of her shock.

A police investigation was launched after the grim discovery was made by builders working on a property in Darlington.

The remains were discovered by workmen working on an extension at a house in Springwell Terrace on Monday afternoon.

Last night, the homeowner, who has lived in the property since 2011, said: "I was quite shocked when the builders told me what had happened.

"They are working on a small extension right next to one that was built the year after we moved into the house. We called the police and to be fair they came straight round and cordoned off the area.

"I saw the skull for myself and it looked like it had been there for a while – it was brown with all of the teeth still in place. We have no idea how long the skull has been buried, but from where it was found, I'm not sure how the previous builder didn't disturb it.

"At the minute we really have no idea how long the skull has been in the ground and don't have any more information that what we told the police."

Specialist tests are expected to be carried out to determine whether the skull is definitely human and to potential age it and estimate how long it may have been in the ground.

While the investigation is at an early stage, Durham Police are unable to rule out any lines of inquiry, including whether it could be the missing skull of Julie Paterson who was murdered in April 1998 after going missing from her Barningham Road bedsit in Darlington.

The Northern Echo:

Julie Paterson, left, and her killer, right, David Harker

The torso of the 31-year-old mother-of-four was found dumped in a bin bag in nearby Polam Lane – but the rest of her body has never been recovered.

The Northern Echo:

Levi and Gareth Price

Another line of inquiry could be looking at whether the discovery is one of the two skulls of brothers, Levi and Gareth Price, which were snatched by grave robbers from Metal Bridge, above, in an escalation of a feud between travelling families in November 2015.