Police attended Irvine Old Parish Church in North Ayrshire after human remains were found during construction work.

Workers at the site discovered bones in a wall of the house of worship, which was opened in 1778.

Remains of a skull and other bones could be seen inside the wall, with officers called to the scene after their discovery.

They remained on location until Thursday afternoon, when it was confirmed that the remains were not of anyone recently deceased.

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

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

The current church replaced the previous Chapel of St. Mary and contains relics from older house of worship.

It contains a pre-reformation stone engraved with MQ and the date 1506, which is said to commemorate a visit by Margaret Tudor, who was Queen of Scots from 1503 to 1513.

Her great-grandson, James VI, would become the first king of Britain when he ascended the throne of England following the death of Elizabeth Tudor.

The cemetery at Irvine Old Parish Church is the resting place of John Mennons, founder of The Herald 240 years ago.

He was buried there on February 2, 1818, with the newspaper funding a memorial stone in 2008.

The Herald:

Members of Edgar Allan Poe's foster family are also buried in the cemetery, which contains more than 1,500 memorial stones.

The horror author was raised by John Allan, an Irvine-born tobacco merchant of Richmond, Virginia.

Poe spent part of his childhood in North Ayrshire after his family returned to visit relatives in 1815.

He stayed at Bridgegate House and attended the Kirkgate Grammar School, while local legend has it that one lesson involved a trip to the nearby cemetery.

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Hervey Allan wrote in Israfel: The Life and Times of Edgar Allan Poe: "It may have been that some early memories of this 'dewey, misty' climate and... the chill seas around the misty Hebrides were so thoroughly soaked into Edgar Poe that he long remembered the plashy fields about Irvine and Kilmarnock."

Given its location on the coast, many of the gravesites are for shipwreck victims whose remains were lost at sea.

Local historian Billy Kerr said in a 2007 BBC documentary that one, William Crooks, captain of the ship ‘Abyss’, may have influenced Poe works such as The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.

Its inscription reads: "Pray, gentle reader, drop a tear/At his untimely fate/You like to him may dread no fear/And dangers you await/He that did give can take away/That life which was his own/Either on the briny sea/Or land in frozen zone".

Poe researcher Robert Brill has suggested that his voyage by ship to reach Scotland, as well as stories of shipwrecks in the coastal town may have influenced The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym and other sea tales written by Poe.

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The cemetery also contains "Irvine's answer to Greyfriars Bobby", on the Celtic cross memorial to Albert Slewellyn Brayne.

A butler by trade, he was born in 1852 at Rodington in what is now Shropshire and moved to Irvine in 1888 with wife Annie and a young son, who was also named Albert.

He was the head servant to the Matheson family, which made its vast fortune in textile dyeing.

Brigadier-General Sir Donald Matheson owned a property in Ayrshire in later life, and was later made an honorary member of the Irvine Burns Club. The poet once worked in a flax mill on the Glasgow Vennel in the town.

When Mr Brayne died in 1895 a brass depiction of his grieving dog was placed on his memorial.

However, as reported by the Irvine Times, the image of the terrier was stolen in late April this year.