Mystery surrounds the bones of seven bodies which were found by workers in a former Hexham cafe and charity shop.

The skeletal remains were discovered in Beaumont Street at the old Newcastle Building Society and the former Scope premises.

Work started on converting the building into flats earlier this year. Builders were digging out a pit ready to place an elevator when they came across some bones on Wednesday, November 8.

Allan Fenwick, director of Abbey View North East, was shocked to receive a phone call from his site manager telling him that they had found skeletons and bones at the site in Hexham.

In July, the company had been given permission to convert three of the upper floors of 1-3 Beaumont Street - above Newcastle Building Society and the former Scope site - into seven flats.

Work started earlier this year and the builders were digging out a pit ready to place an elevator for easy access to the flats. They dug down 1.5m and came across some bones.

"I was driving to the site when I received the phone call," Allan said. "When I got there, I saw it and was shocked.

"I have been in the business for 40 years and never came across bones before, so I wasn't sure what to do when we found them.

"I am mostly office-based so naturally I wouldn't have had any experience seeing them, but my site manager has been a part of many projects around Newcastle - where they found numerous bones.

"It was really strange as we didn't dig that deep and they were all piled on top of each other. There were seven in total but separated parts.

The Northern Echo: Allan in front of the pitAllan in front of the pit (Image: NQ)

"Luckily we had our archaeologist from our the planning application who was able to help with the process of getting a specialist coroner's licence to excavate it. I thought we would have to get the police in - but that was not the case.

"I was also quite worried that it would stop our work for months but thankfully it was only a week or two that we paused everything, so we aren't behind at all.

"We know the site was the old St Mary's Church, so it makes sense that we discovered the skeletal remains.

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"We are keen to work with Rocket Heritage and Archaeology to learn more about the discovery, who they were, what happened to them."

Technical director of Rocket Heritage and Archaeology, Liz Murray said: "We found partial skeletal remains of approximately seven separate individuals, most of which were in defined grave cuts.

"It is likely that they had been buried within, and under the floor of, a chapel that used to stand on the site - suggesting that the burials were medieval in date.

"Assessment work is ongoing and any further work at the site will be done under archaeological supervision."