A total of 26 human skeletons thought to date back almost 3,000 years have been found during work on a new water pipe in Oxfordshire.
Thames Water engineers made the discovery as they were preparing to lay new water pipes to relieve pressure on the Letcombe Brook, near Wantage.
The human skeletons are believed to be from the Iron Age and Roman periods and some likely to have been involved in ritual burials.
Animal carcases and household items, including pottery and a decorative comb, were also found.
The items have been removed by Cotswold Archaeology for forensic examination, allowing Thames Water to start laying the six-kilometre pipe, which will supply nearby villages with water.
Chris Rochfort, Thames Water Environmental Manager, said: “We’ve found significant historical items on many previous upgrade projects but this is one of our biggest and most exciting yet.
“This is a £14.5m project which is going to have real benefits for the environment by reducing the need to take water from the Letcombe Brook, a chalk stream which is a globally rare and highly important habitat for us to protect. As a result, future generations will be able to enjoy it for years to come – and now they can also learn about their village’s secret history.”