Several human skeletons believed to be 3,000 years old have been uncovered by utility workers just 50 miles outside of London.

Engineers working for Thames Water stumbled upon 26 ancient human remains while preparing to install new water pipes in Oxfordshire. The company said it made the discovery several months ago.

Researchers speculate that the remains may have belonged to victims of human sacrifice and were then laid to rest in ritual burials. The skeletons were likely from the country's Iron Age and the Roman period.

Ancient Human Skeletons In Oxfordshire

Excavation of the burial site was handled by Cotswold Archaeology. Neil Holbrook, the company's CEO, said the discovery gives them an opportunity to study different archaeological sites that were not previously known to scientists.

"The Iron Age site at Childrey Warren was particularly fascinating as it provided a glimpse into the beliefs and superstitions of people living in Oxfordshire before the Roman conquest," said Holbrook.

"Evidence elsewhere suggests that burials in pits might have involved human sacrifice."

Holbrook added that the new discovery challenges how people look at the past, inviting researchers to have a better understanding of what humans believed in over 2,000 years ago.

Aside from the ancient human remains, the Cotswold team also unearthed animal carcasses, evidence of early dwellings, and household items such as a decorative comb, cutting implements, and pieces of pottery.

Other Archaeological Finds

Thames Water have made several other archaeological finds while conducting water line projects. However, the Childrey Warren burial site represents the company's biggest and most exciting discovery yet.

Chris Rochfort, environmental manager at Thames Water, said their work in Oxfordshire is part of a £14.5 million ($18.9 million) project to help eliminate the need to take water from Letcombe Brook, which is rare and crucial habitat located in the Vale of White Horse.

Thames Water's original goal was to preserve the area's natural environment. The finding of the burial site gives the company a chance to protect Oxfordshire's secret history for future generations as well.

Some of Thames Water's earlier archaeological finds have been shared with locals during events in Letcombe Regis and Letcombe Bassett.

The British Iron Age is one of the most fascinating periods of ancient history for archaeologists. A number of discoveries from the era have been made over the past few years.

In 2013, scientists uncovered 11 large Iron Age cauldrons from a dig site in Leicestershire County. They also found brooches, woodworking tools, a sword, and a "horn cap" that is thought to part of an ancient scepter.

Researchers believe people first settled in the region between the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. These settlements later underwent significant changes between the 4th and 3rd centuries.

"It is the metalwork assemblage that really sets this settlement apart," said John Thomas, director of the excavation from the University of Leicester.

"The quantity and quality of the finds far outshines most of the other contemporary assemblages from the area, and its composition is almost unparalleled."

The researchers believe the cauldrons that they have unearthed were linked to significant events in the settlements history.

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