A HUMAN skull has been found by workmen clearing a drain in north Dublin.
The discovery was made by workmen during excavations on land at Waterside, near Malahide.
The find is being forensically examined by experts today to determine its age and how long it may have been at the site.
Gardai initially speculated that the find may be a historic find of archaeological importance rather than a recent death.
But sources say the skull was found in a ditch and not buried in clay, so efforts will be made to determine if it had been dug up and only discovered yesterday, or if it had lain in the ditch undiscovered until yesterday.
Searches were also due to be carried out today to see if the remainder of the body could be found. Gardai were contacted yesterday evening following the discovery and the area, which is close to the M1 motorway, was sealed off.
Officers preserved the scene overnight after carrying out initial inspections under floodlights. They also contacted the office of the State Pathologist and a detailed examination of the skull was to be carried out today by forensic anthropologist Dr Laureen Buckley.
A senior garda officer said this should determine whether the find is historical or is more recent. He said gardai were awaiting the outcome of the tests before deciding on further inquiries.
The land is next to the Waterside estate and residents gathered at the field last night.
It is believed the area was being prepared for ploughing when the gruesome discovery was made by the workmen.
"The field is going to be used for growing vegetables or potatoes. It's privately owned as far as I know," one local resident explained.
"A search spotlight also later appeared in the area. Obviously they came across something they weren't expecting.
"The gardai arrived at around 7pm and that's when I noticed the giant spotlight.
"There's a laneway down to the field and children from around here would play in that area quite a lot," he added.
Investigations are continuing.