The mystery surrounding the discovery of a body on remote farmland has deepened after police suggested it may be that of a man who went missing more than 10 miles away.

Officers have contacted the family of David Ryan, 73, who has not been seen at his home in Norwich since December, to say they believe that human remains found in Woodton may be his.

The body of a man was found in a ditch by farm workers at Old Hall Farm on the edge of the village last month, although news of the discovery only emerged this week.

Police do not know how the man died or how the body ended up there and have not been able to formally identify it, with further tests and inquiries ongoing.

However, they have visited Mr Ryan's relatives in Norwich to update them about the discovery and share their suspicion that the body, which is said to have been in the ditch for several weeks, may be his.

Beccles & Bungay Journal: David Ryan was last seen near his home on December 28David Ryan was last seen near his home on December 28 (Image: Norfolk Police)

Clues found at the scene are understood to have led officers to make the connection.

A post-mortem examination on the body is due to take place on May 3 and Mr Ryan's brother Carl, 76, hopes it may provide some answers.

He said: "We are hoping the body found is my brother David, but have very minimal details from the police who spoke to us earlier in the week.

“We really want some closure to this mystery of where he has been because it has been months now and it is really concerning for us all.

“I would hate for him to be by himself for all that time. It makes me very sad, my poor brother."

The family say they are unaware of Mr Ryan, who did not have a car, having any links to Woodton and have no idea how or why he might have gone there.

Beccles & Bungay Journal: Farmland near the Norwich Road at Woodton - Old Hall FarmFarmland near the Norwich Road at Woodton - Old Hall Farm (Image: Denise Bradley)

Mr Ryan, who is described as white, 5ft 3in tall, vanished from his home at the Swanton Community Support facility, on Crome Road in Norwich, on December 28.

He is believed to have been wearing a black bobble hat, a long green or dark-coloured wax jacket, dark trousers and work-style boots when he disappeared.

Police appealed for help in tracing him and launched a major search operation in the city, involving drones, house-to-house enquiries, CCTV footage examination and the distribution of around 22,000 leaflets.

READ MORE: Police investigating body found at Old Hall Farm in Woodton

READ MORE: Hope mystery of missing Norwich man David Ryan can be solved

He was a familiar face in many parts of the city, who would frequently walk around areas including the city centre, Magdalen Street, Anglia Square, Silver Road and Chapelfield Gardens.

However, officers "paused" their search on January 24 because all lines of enquiry had been exhausted.

The body was found on land at Old Hall Farm, Woodton on March, 19.

Officers do not believe the death was suspicious but are treating it as “unexplained".

Norfolk police has declined to comment.