Construction workers in Halifax made a surprising discovery on Wednesday when they uncovered two human bones on North Park Street.

The street has been ripped up to construct a new roundabout, but work came to a halt when a co-op student spotted the first bone in a trench.

"She said, 'What is this?'" said Courtney Glen, a senior archeologist with Davis MacIntyre & Associates who is working as a consultant at the site.

"I said 'Wow, that changes things.'" 

Glen said workers found a second bone not far away. The soil had been dug up and flipped over, leaving the bones on top of the pile. 

"It was definitely a surprise and it definitely was a bit of a game changer for us," said Glen.

Her entire team was called in to screen the area to make sure they didn't miss any others.

It's mandatory for police to be called to the scene when human bones are found. 

"Between the medical examiner and the archaeologists, we all kind of felt that it was human, but it was also archeological. Probably between 150 to 160 years old," she said.

'A little bit of insight'

Glen said the bones were found where a Protestant orphanage stood in the late 1800s. 

"One of the bones was definitely juvenile," she said, describing it as the top of a hip joint. 

"You never really want to find human remains — you never want to disturb them of course — but once you find them, it's a little bit of insight into the site." 

Glen did extensive research on the area before construction began. She said while they knew there was an orphanage, there was no indication of a cemetery at the site. The orphanage was open at that location between 1857 and 1875. 

Glen said once they're done monitoring construction at the site, they'll head to the Nova Scotia Archives to see if they can learn more about if there was any sickness in the area at the time or if there are burial records that could help identify the remains.

The Nova Scotia Medical Examiner's office has not yet examined the bones. A forensic anthropologist will be brought in late next week to help with the investigation.

Work at the site resumed Thursday, but not in the location where the remains were found. 

Glen does not think the discovery will delay the planned completion of the roundabout project.