*WARNING: This story contains images and video footage which some readers may find upsetting* 

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POLICE in Irvine launched an investigation after historic human remains were discovered hidden below a cupboard in a church in the town.

The bones were found during construction work at the historic Irvine Old Parish Church.

Police forensic teams were still at the site today after being alerted to the discovery on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 3.

A Police Scotland spokesperson confirmed this afternoon: “Officers attended Irvine Parish Church around 3pm on Wednesday, May 3, following the discovery of human bones during construction work at the site.

"These have now been confirmed as historic remains and will be re-interred at the church.”

The National: The bones found inside the kirk

The age of the remains has yet to be ascertained.

Church officer Billy Kerr told the Irvine Times: "They were discovered by a workman, Colin Reilly, on Tuesday morning. He informed me.

"That night I climbed in myself to clarify. I was amazed to see them there.

"Next day I phoned the minister, Rev Alec Wark. He advised me to phone the police immediately."

The National: The remains were found below a cupboard

Earlier today, a Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Officers remain at the scene and enquiries are ongoing. There is no risk to the wider community.”

Billy said: "My theory is the following. In the 1860s a heating system was installed in the church, resulting in old pre-Reformation burials being disturbed.

"These were reinterred in the church. In this cupboard is the lead supply tank for that system. These remains were probably disturbed when the tank was installed."

Video footage taken by Billy shows the discovery, and pictures of the bones from the scene.

Irvine Old Parish Church was built in 1773 to replace an earlier chapel known as St Mary’s. The spire, “whose silent finger points to Heaven” , was finished in 1778.

The National: Police teams are investigating the discovery of human remains

At this time, the church was one of the largest churches in Ayrshire, and became known as the “Big Kirk”. It could seat about 1800 people.

The kirk graveyard is known to be of historic significance, with gravestones dating back centuries.

Among those interred there are members of Edgar Allan Poe's foster family, notable Irvine provosts and dignitaries, executed Covenanters, grave robbers, and victims of shipwrecks.