The secrets locked in five historic Roman burial urns are being uncovered at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in Chippenham.

Kelly Abbott, contract conservator with Wiltshire Council Conservation Service, said the dusting away of years of history from the urns has uncovered bones that could be human.

The ancient urns, that date back to the Roman conquest, were found at the site of Linden Homes’ King Harry Lane development in St Albans.

Foundations Archaeology, which has been working on the site for some time, enlisted the help of council experts to determine whether the remains inside the urns belong to adults or children and to find out more detail about their lives.

Mrs Abbott said: “Unlocking the mystery of these urns could provide a fascinating glimpse of life during the Roman conquest.

“Two of the urns contained bones which could be human.

“An osteoarchaeologist will now examine the bones and help provide even more detail.”

The conservators at the history centre have now worked their way through two of the urns, with three remaining.

The long process involves carefully working through the urns to ensure that the remains can be carefully explored.

Mrs Abbott said adhesives and chemicals are used to ensure the remains can be removed in one piece.

“Eventually, what we’re really hoping for and with the permission of Linden Homes, is that the urns will be able to go to a museum,” she said.

“They are the property of Linden Homes, as the site belongs to them, and so it is ultimately their decision.”

BMI The Bath Clinic in Bath allowed the team to use their CT scanner to guide the investigation into what the urns contain.

Using the CT images to guide them, the conservators at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre have been excavating the urns on a microscopic scale, detailing their contents.

Once the cremations have been removed from the urns, the bones will be cleaned and dried under laboratory conditions, before being investigated by archaologists who specialise in bones.

Archaeologists have determined that the King Harry Lane site was of significant importance.

The cremation urns were found at a burial ground, located at the entrance to a late Iron Age ‘oppidum’ or defended settlement.

St Albans, known as Verulamium, was a key site in the Roman period and these cremation urns, along with the other archaeological finds on the site, are being seen as nationally important.