Ancient skeletal remains uncovered by road workers near Terryland Castle in Galway earlier this month may have been 17th-century soldiers in Oliver Cromwell's army.

Jim Higgins, heritage officer with Galway City Council, compared the significant find to the recent discovery of King Richard III's skeleton in Leicester, England.

"With Richard III, we had a fair idea that it was there," he told the Irish Independent, "but with this case we have a lot more skeletons, which will give us a lot more information. It's a fantastic find.

"They (the skeletons) are in a row, it looks as if they have been buried very deliberately. There are three definite skeletons and then a scatter of bones. I'd imagine there are more to be found."

Added Mr Higgins: "The first thing we'll be looking for will be buckshot marks or injuries. The great fascination is always how did they die?"

Archaeologists believe one possible explanation is that the remains belong to British soldiers from the Williamite battle in 1691, which had recorded casualties in the area. A small skirmish between Irish forces and Cromwellian troops in 1651 is also possible.

A second possibility is that skeletons belong to family members of the Earl of Clanricarde. According to the Independent, the remains were found 75 metres from Terryland Castle, where the earl used to spend time praying in a small chapel near the castle.

The remains will be examined on site next week before being removed to a laboratory for further forensic testing.

Terryland Castle, Galway