SKELETONS uncovered inside the world-famous Rosslyn Chapel have been reburied – but mysteries about their identities remain.

The remains of three people were found when work was ordered to renew the heating system in the historic site in Midlothian, which is a working church.

Radiocarbon dating of two adult skeletons suggests the burials took place in the mid-1400s, around the time the chapel was built.

It is thought the men may have been of high status and that at least one of them had undertaken heavy or repetitive industry due to the condition of the bones.

However, little more is known about who these individuals were or how they came to be laid to rest at this site, which is already associated with several mysteries.

Founded in 1446 as the Collegiate Church of St Matthew, the chapel rose to international fame when it featured in the Dan Brown bestseller The Da Vinci Code as the burial place of Mary Magdalene, who Brown wrote had been married to Jesus Christ.

The site is also known for its ornate carvings, which include depictions of exotic plants thought to have been unknown in Europe at the time of construction, including maize and aloe vera.

There are also competing theories surrounding 120 depictions of a smiling “green man” face, who may be a pagan figure, and the carving of a man with a gash on his head, thought to be a figure from freemasonry or a representation of sacrifice and rebirth.

According to some, Rosslyn is also the burial place of the Knights Templar and hidden beehives uncovered on the roof are not said to have been designed for honey production.

But while archaeologists cannot identify the remains of the skeletons discovered, they do know that they were buried with their heads positioned to the west with their feet to the east, indicating that they were not members of the clergy.

Medieval Christian practice had churchmen positioned the other way around so that on the Day of Judgement, while laypeople would rise to face the dawn, ministers would face their congregations instead.

Lindsay Dunbar, of AOC Archaeology Group, said: “Opportunities to work at such a world-famous and iconic monument as Rosslyn Chapel come along rarely so it was with great anticipation that AOC undertook the archaeological monitoring during the construction of the new visitor centre and works at the chapel.

“The discovery of both disturbed and in situ burials was especially exciting given the limited amount of excavation necessary within the chapel to complete the conservation works.

“AOC was allowed ample time to complete the full excavation of the burials and the good preservation of the human bone allowed full osteoarchaeological analysis to be completed.

“Whilst it is unlikely that the burials represent the clergy it is clear that to occupy such a space within such a small chapel means that these burials are of people important to the chapel.”

Ian Gardner, director of Rosslyn Chapel Trust, said: “The analysis provides valuable information about the age of the remains but, inevitably, questions remain unanswered about the identity of these men and their roles here.

“Today’s ceremony to reinter the remains was simple but a very fitting way to return them to Rosslyn Chapel.”