Builders find '4,000-year-old skeleton' in Wooler
A skeleton thought to be about 4,000 years old has been unearthed by builders working at a hotel in rural Northumberland.
Work to convert a former stable block at the Tankerville Arms in Wooler was halted when a Bronze Age stone burial chamber - or cist - was discovered.
Archaeologists are working to find out the sex of the single skeleton and whether any other remains are nearby.
Estimates suggest the cist dates from some time between 2,200BC and 1,750BC.
An archaeological team from Northumberland County Council has been called in and police have been informed.
Local archaeologist Roger Miket, who assisted with the initial excavation, said: "About four days ago in a development at the Tankerville hotel, they were putting drains in when a digger hit the slab of a stone made coffin called a cist from the early Bronze Age.
"In moving the slab back one could see the hollow underneath in which a burial had been placed.
"The cist is formed of four upright stones with the cover slab on top."
Mr Miket added that a "small, beautifully fashioned flint knife" was found by the legs of the skeleton.
"It would have been a precious item at the time of the burial and was included in the grave for use in the afterlife," he said.
A spokeswoman for the hotel described the find as "exciting" and said staff were working with experts from council.
The hotel was built in the mid-1700s by the then Earl of Tankerville for use by hunting parties.