SHOCKED workmen discovered human remains after digging up a pavement to lay cables.
The bones, believed to more than 150 years old, were found in Church Street, Padiham, yesterday.
Workmen had been digging up the pavement to lay cable for superfast broadband when they made the grim discovery of ribs, pelvis and teeth.
Work was immediately halted and police were called.
The bones were found outside the retaining wall of St Leonard’s Church.
Rev Mark Jones said: “I think it gave the workmen quite a shock. It must have been quite upsetting.
“When the graveyard was moved to make way for the road, the bodies were exhumed and reinterred at the back of the church, but some must have been missed.
“It wasn’t a shallow grave. Before the Victorian era, bodies were just piled up in graveyards. People were a lot less squeamish about it.
“Many poor people would have had no stone at all.
“The Victorians started to use headstones as a way of displaying their wealth.
“Nowadays, we think of graves as family plots.”
The bones are believed to have come from an unmarked grave in the old cemetery which originally extended a metre outside the church wall.
The graveyard was scaled back in the 1930s to allow the road to be widened.
The remains would have been buried eight foot under the ground but five foot of soil was removed when the work was carried out.
Police were called to the church by workmen to check the remains.
Crime Scene Investigation officers said there were no suspicious circumstances and gave the remains to Rev Jones, who will now re-bury them in the church graveyard.
He said: “There is no way of finding out which family the bones belong to. There has been a church on that bit of land since the 1400s.
“If you count them, only 10 to 15 per cent of the graves in that graveyard were marked.
“I suspect the rest of the skeleton has either gone with time, or is still buried there.”
A Lancashire Police spokesman said CSI attended the scene at around 11.30am yesterday, and said there were no suspicious circumstances.
Nobody from DDK civil engineering was available for comment.