bones dug up during a city-centre excavation could belong to an unknown victim of Nazi bombers in the Second World War, it emerged yesterday.

The remains, unearthed by a developer building a Morrisons supermarket in Byker, Newcastle, have mystified police since their discovery ten days ago.

Forensic experts said yesterday the bones were probably Victorian, but an archaeological team at the site said they could belong to a victim of the Blitz.

It is thought the skeleton parts could have been left when a Victorian cemetery was cleared decades ago.

Steve Speak, senior keeper of field archaeology for Tyne and Wear Museums, has kept a watching brief on the large site, at Shields Road, Byker, since work began earlier this year.

He said: "We have two theories on the origin of these bones. One is that they belong to someone killed during the Second World War. They might have been unknown body parts left after a direct hit and dumped in a sandpit, which was more or less where Morrisons is now.

"They could also be full remnants of a cemetery clearance. There are no records of a cemetery there, but we would not necessarily expect there to be."

When the body parts were turned up they were surrounded by remnants of everyday Victorian life. Tobacco pipes, fragments of bottled glass and small pieces of 19th century pottery littered the disturbed ground.

Mr Speak said: "This site is in a sensitive area for Roman archaeology because it runs adjacent to Hadrian's Wall.

"But to find something as mysterious as this is a real bonus. The bones were separated from each other and were clearly found some way from where they were buried. I do not think a JCB, which disturbed them, is the best tool for extracting bones."

The remains are held at Byker police station, although the Northumbria force say the matter is now closed.

The bones will be cleaned up and, presuming no one comes forward to identify them, will be reburied in a modern casket somewhere in the city.