A woman whose head was found in a plastic bag on a beach in Scotland has been identified.

She was a 36-year-old from Brechin, Angus in Scotland, who had been reported missing by her employer, police said.

The head was discovered by two young sisters as they played on the beach in Angus.

A police search of the beach later discovered two severed hands.

Det. Chief Insp. Graham McMillan, senior investigation officer, said an overwhelming response from the public led to the breakthrough.

"The response to the appeals made in the media to date has been phenomenal and has, without doubt, led to us identifying this woman," he said. "I'd like to thank those members of the public who did get in touch for their assistance."

Attempts were being made to contact the woman's next-of-kin.

"We will be speaking to a number of people over the course of the day in a bid to establish the woman's last known movements, when she was last seen, and to establish the circumstances of her death," McMillan said.

Investigating officers have also reported finding "possible human material" on the shore at along the coast.

The material is being examined at a police mortuary in Dundee.

An apartment is also being searched at Earlsden House in Brechin's Southesk Street.

A resident who lives nearby said the property was cordoned off on Wednesday evening and police were still there on Thursday morning.

She added that mostly Polish immigrants lived there.

"When I drove past there was just a police van. I remember seeing it and thinking there was trouble," she said.

Andrew Stephen, 37, who works close to Earlsden House, said the community was shocked by the police activity.

"It is a very quiet place and you don't expect this on your front door," he said.

An artist's image of the woman was set to be released in a bid to aid the investigation, but police said that has been postponed.

A description issued on Wednesday said she had brown eyes, brown eyebrows and shoulder-length brown hair, with a pale complexion and freckles over her cheeks and nose.

An examination found a circular scar in the middle of her forehead, just below the hair line. Police added that the woman did not have pierced ears.