Irish police have launched a major investigation after a severed arm was unearthed in a field in County Meath on Friday night.

Detectives are to launch a full scale search of the area at daybreak on Saturday after the grim discovery by a walker.

The field near the village of Clonee, not far from the border with Dublin, has been sealed off by officers.

They believe the arm is that of a man and are trawling through missing person reports in an effort to confirm his identity.

The Irish Times reports that local sources said officers did not get the opportunity to search the field at the Mayne in Clonee after the alarm was raised because the light faded too quickly.

A police source told the paper: “We’ll obviously be looking for any more remains at the scene or to see if there’s any evidence, maybe that the arm was severed from a live person at the scene or part of a dead body hacked up.”

A police spokesman said: “We have no further information at this stage, searches will continue at first light tomorrow morning.”

The paper adds that the discovery of human remains is not unusual. Body parts are often found on beaches around the country.