'Thieves' have accidentally burst open a tomb filled with 600-year-old skeletons at a Scots graveyard.

It is believed they were using a ladder to steal lead at the graveyard beside St Nicholas Buccleuch Parish Church on Dalkeith High Street when the incident happened.

A Church of England spokesperson said there is evidence that a metal ladder was placed against the church wall and stood on a stone slab which broke under someone's weight on Tuesday July 13.

As a result, the 3ft hole under the covering opened up, exposing the human bones inside.

The spokesperson added: "The graveyard round St Nicholas Buccleuch Parish Church dates back around 600 years.

“A paved area surrounds the building and there is evidence that a metal ladder was placed against a wall with the feet resting on a slab which broke under a person’s weight, exposing a hole in which historic remains were found.

“While it is unclear if the motivation was theft, office bearers discovered that a lead rainwater drain had been removed from the wall and was found near pieces of the broken slab."

The area was cordoned off, a temporary cover was placed over the hole with care not to turn to disturb the remains by a local building company and the police were informed.

However, police believe that there were no suspicious circumstances.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We were made aware on Tuesday, 13 July of human remains uncovered in the grounds of a church on the High Street in Dalkeith.

“The bones are historic in nature and there are no suspicious circumstances.”