Archaeologists discover Roman sculptures at abandoned Buckinghamshire church on HS2 rail route

The findings offer new insights into life in Britain at around the time that Jesus walked the earth, reports ITV News Senior Correspondent Paul Davies reports

Archaeologists have uncovered an "astounding" set of Roman sculptures while digging on the route of the HS2 high-speed railway.

Two complete busts of what appear to be a man and a woman were found at an abandoned medieval church in Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire, along with the head of a child.

A hexagonal glass Roman jug was also uncovered with large pieces still intact despite being in the ground for what is believed to be more than 1,000 years.

Experts believe the site was used as a Roman mausoleum Credit: HS2 Ltd/PA

A vessel on display in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is the only known comparable item.

The discoveries at the old St Mary's Church have been sent for specialist analysis.

Experts believe the location was used as a Roman mausoleum before the Norman church was built in the year 1080 AD.

Around 3,000 bodies have been removed from the church and will be reburied at a new site.

Dr Rachel Wood, lead archaeologist for HS2 contractor Fusion JV, said: “They’re hugely significant because they’re really rare finds in the UK.

“To find one stone head or one set of shoulders would be really astonishing, but we have two complete heads and shoulders as well as a third head as well.

“They’re even more significant to us archaeologically because they’ve actually helped change our understanding of the site here before the medieval church was built.”

“They are so significant and so remarkable that we would certainly hope that they will end up on display for the local community to see.”

Some of the hundreds of rare coins from the Iron Age which were uncovered by archaeologists.

The finds come after hundreds of rare coins from the Iron Age were uncovered by archaeologists working on the HS2 route in July. One excavator described the hoard of small coins, which were found in Hillingdon, west London, and date back to the first century BC, as a “once-in-a-lifetime find”.

Bearing the side profile of Greek god Apollo on one side and a charging bull on the other, their design is based on coins struck in the French city of Marseille more than 2,000 years ago.