Medieval graffiti associated with warding off evil spirits has been discovered by archaeologists.
A series of lines radiating from a drilled hole were unearthed on two stones at the remains of a church in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire.
Historians believe the markings are 12th Century “witches’ marks” created to protect against spirits by trapping them in an endless line or maze.
The discovery was made in preparation for the building of the HS2 rail line.
Archaeologist Michael Court said it was “a fascinating insight into the past”.
The location of one of the stones at the medieval St Mary’s Church suggests the markings could have been created for protection.
They can also be interpreted as early sun dials, expert said.
The route of HS2 will go through the site of the 12th Century church, which was abandoned in 1866 when a new church was built closer to the village.
Work to dismantle and excavate the church will carry on until next year, and includes the removal and reburial of bodies in graves.
Mr Court, lead archaeologist for the high speed rail scheme, said the work on the line was revealing “years of heritage and British history”.
He said: “Discoveries such as these unusual markings have opened up discussions as to their purpose and usage.”
There have been several protests against the £98bn high speed rail project which have taken place across the country, and the Woodland Trust said it was “shocked and upset” after a pear tree, thought to be more than 250 years old, was cut down to make way for the line.