The National Roads Authority has been accused of desecrating an ancient burial site in Co Laois after the discovery of more than 500 skeletons on the route of the proposed new M7 motorway.

Archaeologists discovered the remains near a previously unknown 7th century settlement at Parknahown near Cullahill. Locals have called for the work to be stopped and the route of the new road to be diverted.

The NRA says it has removed the remains of many of the skeletons from the site but local priest Fr Willie Hennessy told RTÉ News today that the people of the parish were shocked that the work on the road has not stopped.

He said locals expected the archaeologists to stop and preserve the site when they discovered the old burial ground. Instead, he said, they had ‘desecrated’ the site by removing the remains.