THE mystery surrounding a mass burial site from Roman times in Hambleden – thought to be a brothel – has deepened with further research.

Last year a Chiltern archaeologist suggested the brothel idea after new work on an excavation from 1912 at the Yewden villa, in the village, near Marlow.

The remains of 97 babies, who died at 40 weeks gestation, were found there.

In 2008, the remains of the infants were rediscovered packed in cigarette cases in a dusty museum storeroom by Dr Jill Eyers from Chiltern Archaeology.

The revelations, a year ago, got the attention of the world's media.

Dr Eyers said: "Even now, every other day I'm getting inquiries about this story. It seems that everyone is intrigued by this puzzle," said Dr Eyers.

BBC Two's series Digging for Britain, starting in the first week in September, will feature new research and DNA tests.

After Dr Eyers recent work she believes a range of evidence now backs her brothel theory.

"To be honest, when I first put this idea forward last year, it was really to get people talking and debating, but the more I look into this, the more convinced I am by my original brothel theory,” she said.

However, Brett Thorn, keeper of archaeology at the Buckinghamshire County Museum, is unconvinced.

"My main concern with the brothel theory is that it's just too far away from any major population centres," he said.

He has his own hypothesis.

"There are a few significant religious objects from the site that indicate possible connections with a mother goddess cult," he said.

"They may indicate that the site was a shrine and women went there to give birth, and get protection from the mother goddess during this dangerous time.

“The large number of babies who are buried there could be natural stillbirths, or children who died in labour."

Last year during filming for the television series, presenter Dr Alice Roberts noticed cut marks made by a sharp tool on one of the bones.

This discovery, not revealed to the public until now, could indicate ritual practices involving human sacrifice.

Alternatively, it could show the de-fleshing of bones before burial, or the dismembering of a baby during childbirth to save the life of the mother.

DNA tests on a sample of the skeletons showed an equal number of boys and girls.

Commonly, historical cases of infanticide were primarily girls, not boys.

Yet the opposite holds true for brothel sites, further puzzling researchers.

Dr Eyers thinks only further excavation at the site will finally clear up the mystery.