Excavation work that is part of the construction for Europe's largest infrastructure project expects to unearth around 3,000 skeletons from the 16th and 17th centuries at London's Liverpool Street Station, according to Crossrail's lead archaeologist.

Further artefacts being unearthed date back as long ago as Roman times.

The Liverpool Street site is being dug down to the tunnel level of the city's underground network, which is around 40 metres below ground level, while the top six metres are purely archaeology - a sequence from the Roman to the early modern period.

Lead archaeologist for Crossrail, Jay Carver, said the sample that would be taken away would be the largest sample relating to the period to be dug up in London.

"We're filling a bit of a gap in our knowledge of London's population and their lives and what they suffered from in terms of health and how long they lived and how they died. I think it's going to be the largest sample we've got telling us that story of an individual sample of London's population at that time," he said.

Carver added that the team was currently in the first week of excavation, into the first few hundred skeleton discoveries of what they expect to be around 3,000.

Artefacts already recovered show further evidence of the original settlement of Londinium, during Roman times.

Carver said that at the bottom of the sequence of the dig, around four metres below the current level, there was evidence of the Roman city.

"A Roman road crosses the site just behind me actually. We're finding a lot of domestic pottery vessels, a lot of gaming counters, so there's a big kind of indication that we hope to find settlement evidence, Roman settlement evidence, and activity, when we get to the end of the dig four metres down," he said.

The new railway across London will be the realisation of a plan first mooted in the 1880s to connect the docks in the east of the city to Paddington in the west.

Crossrail however will go further, linking Heathrow airport and the commuter towns of Maidenhead to the west with Shenfield, on the outskirts of Brentwood in Essex, to the east.