More than 200 skeletons have been dug up during work to revamp England’s largest parish church as part of a £4.5m upgrade.
The remains were discovered in the old churchyard outside Holy Trinity Church, in Hull, which will be a major venue for events taking place during next year’s City of Culture celebrations.
The discovery of so many bodies - including a vault belonging to a “very important person”, possibly a benefactor or Lord Mayor, outside the West Door of the church - came as a surprise to churchleaders, after early tests suggested only a few remains would be found.
So far 206 sets of bones have been found - but the number is expected to continue rising as ground levels continue to come down.
The bones will be interred within the church’s crypt and a service will be held once work is completed.
The churchyard wall and gates have been taken down to integrate the church into a new Continental-style piazza.
Vicar of Holy Trinity, the Rev Canon Dr Neal Barnes, said: “We thought we might get the odd bone or skeleton, but dozens have been coming out, which have been carefully and systematically exhumed. They are being properly catalogued and lodged in the crypt.”
Dr Barnes said they were looking forward to next year: “It’s very encouraging - quite a lot of things are already lining up for Holy Trinity, particularly from April onwards, and some of these are quite major events.
“We have had some really exciting inquiries from small and major groups and we are working with the Hull 2017 team.”