UPDATE: Suspected human remains ‘could be ancient’

Police investigate what they believe may be human remains next to the A23 Staplefield junction
Police investigate what they believe may be human remains next to the A23 Staplefield junction

SUSPECTED human remains were discovered on the A23 near Handcross this week.

Detective Inspector Tracy Edwards said: “Following an extensive and thorough search of the site by specialist search officers, we have recovered a few more bones and forensic archaeologists who have studied them at the scene believe that they may be from more than one body.

“However, advice from the experts is that the remains may well be in excess of 100 years old and they will now be subject to carbon dating to confirm this. The search is no longer being treated as a crime scene and a report will be submitted to the coroner.”

Roadworks contractors reported finding bones to Sussex Police at 10.20am on Monday whilst digging southbound on the dual carriageway, 100 metres south of the Slaugham junction.

At the time a spokesperson for Sussex Police said: “There are several small pieces of bone and we believe they are human, but they will be removed today and taken to a forensic laboratory for detailed examination, which may take some time.

“We are keeping an open mind at this time, and have not yet formed a view on how the bones came to be there or their age. Although very close to the carriageway it is possible that they may have been carried there by animals.

“There is no evidence to show that they had been buried, as they appeared on the surface during the process of digging and ground clearance.”

Specialist search and scenes of crime officers were at the scene throughout Monday and Tuesday, examining the bones in conjunction with a forensic archaeologist.

They also began to search the adjacent area, where nothing else has been found.

The A23 was not closed and the roadworks continued but the area was immediately taped off by police. However southbound drivers on the A23 were advised that for a short while the search may extend at a short distance across the crash barrier and onto the roadside itself.

Drivers were advised to take extra care coming down Handcross Hill which was already subject to a 50mph restriction.