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Saxon / Anglo-Saxon Archaeology & Artefacts

Shocked couple find four bodies under their patio... and discover they are living on top of a 1,400-year-old Anglo Saxon burial ground
By John Stevens
Last updated at 1:46 AM on 24th November 2011

When builders digging up Stephen and Nicky West’s patio for an extension came to the back door clutching a human skull, the couple were understandably alarmed.
But fear turned to fascination after experts said four bodies unearthed by the workmen came from a burial site dating back as much as 1,400 years to the middle Saxon period.

Archaeologists believe the skeletons may have been there since 650AD and are part of a much larger burial ground under the home in the Warwickshire village of Ratley.
They say the remains of two women, a man and a child aged between ten and 12 provide an insight into an obscure period.
Analysis of the bones shows that the population at the time suffered from periods of malnourishment and would have been in near-constant pain because of infections.

Mr West, 55, said: ‘It was a bit of a shock to find out I’ve been living above an ancient burial site all these years.
‘It’s a privilege to be so close to such amazing history – and as long as they don’t wake me up, I’m quite happy for it to stay that way.’

He added: ‘We had builders in as we were extending the back of our house, and I heard one of them knock on the door.
'I was absolutely amazed when I saw a workman standing holding a skull – he just said “I think there’s something you should see”.
‘I was praying that the bodies were really old and we hadn’t stumbled across something more grisly.
‘But the archaeologists came over within a couple of hours and said it was quite likely there were a lot more bodies under the house.’

Mr West said he had joked at the start of the building work that they might find something from the English Civil War because their house is near the site of the battle of Edgehill, where the army of Charles I clashed with Parliamentarians in 1642.
But the remarkable archaeological find pre-dates that by nearly 1,000 years.
Carbon-dating from two of the skeletons showed that they died between 650 and 820 AD.
England was then divided into a number of kingdoms and the area may have been a frontier in another war between the Saxon kingdom of the Hwicce and the eventually dominant Anglian kingdom of Mercia.

Stuart Palmer, of Archaeology Warwickshire, said: ‘The discovery of this previously unsuspected burial ground is an extremely rare and important addition to what has previously been an archaeologically invisible period of Warwickshire’s history.’

Mr West, who runs an online bird feed company, said further digs may be limited.
‘We’re interested to know what’s down there, but to be honest we’d like to keep the bit of the house we live in standing where it is, so we won’t be searching too hard.’

The early Anglo-Saxons founded much of England as we know it, including developing systems of justice and currency.
They ruled England through the upheavals of the Viking age right up to the Norman conquest of 1066.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z1ecFud0Bj
Yorkshire Dales National Park reveals Anglo Saxon building

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-yo ... e-16013307

Items dating back as far as 6,000 years ago were found in the ruins of the Selside building

Unusual stone circle investigated
Dales dig turns up surprises

The ruins of what is thought to be an Anglo Saxon building have been revealed by amateur archaeologists in part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The stone building, near Selside, North Yorkshire, was uncovered by members of the Ingleborough Archaeology Group.

Samples of charcoal found in the soil floor were carbon dated. That revealed they date from between 660 and 780 AD.

Robert White, from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said the building was an "exciting" discovery.

"The National Park has a wealth of archaeological sites, but very few have been excavated and even fewer since scientific dating techniques became widely available," he said.

"This is the first building in the national park that is firmly dated to the 7th Century and is one of only a handful in the north.

"The results help fill in a picture of how life and farming communities developed in the Dales, and shows just how much unrecorded archaeology there still is."

Early Neolithic

Dr David Johnson, who supervised the excavation, said items from an even earlier period were also found in the remains of the building.

"We found small pieces of chert, a dark, rock-like flint that was knapped to make small tools," he said.

"These are likely to date from the early Neolithic period, possibly 6,000 years ago and it was probably pure chance that the pieces found their way into the building," he said.

"They may have been trapped in turf used for sealing the walls or roof of the building."

The site where the building was found has now been backfilled and the turf re-instated to protect it.
Cross and bed found in Anglo-Saxon grave shed new light on 'dark ages'
Archaeologists in Cambridge thrilled to discover grave with body of young woman on a bed with an ornate gold cross
Maev Kennedy
The Guardian, Friday 16 March 2012

The dead are often described as sleeping, but archaeologists in Cambridgeshire have uncovered a bed on which the body of a young Anglo-Saxon woman has lain for more than 1,300 years, a regal gold and garnet cross on her breast.
Three more graves, of two younger women and an older person whose sex has not yet been identified, were found nearby.

Forensic work on the first woman's bones suggests she was about 16, with no obvious explanation for her early death. Although she was almost certainly a Christian, buried with the beautiful cross stitched into place on her gown, she was buried according to ancient pagan tradition with some treasured possessions including an iron knife and a chatelaine, a chain hanging from her belt, and some glass beads which were probably originally in a purse that has rotted away.

The field where she lay, now being developed for housing at the edge of the village of Trumpington on the outskirts of Cambridge, hid a previously unknown Anglo-Saxon settlement. It may have been a wealthy monastic settlement – more of it probably lies under the neighbouring farm and farmyard – although there are no records of any church earlier than the 12th century village church which overlooks the site.

Pectoral crosses from the dawn of Christianity in England, and bed burials - where the body was laid on a real bed, now traced only by its iron supports, centuries after the timber rotted – are both extremely rare.

[Cambridge University video describing the discovery of the graves]

There is only one previous record of the two together, a grave found at Ixworth in Suffolk in the 19th century. The excavation records for that find are patchy, whereas archaeologists from Cambridge university will be working for years to recover every scrap of information from the Trumpington site.

A gold and garnet pectoral cross of such quality, the most beautiful and sophisticated examples of Anglo-Saxon metalwork like the contemporary jewels found in the Staffordshire Hoard or the Sutton Hoo burial, could only have been owned by a member of an aristocratic or even royal family. Only five have been found, one in the coffin of St Cuthbert. In some contemporary pieces the gems came from as far as India, and the gold from melted down coins from Constantinople.

Sam Lucy, an Anglo-Saxon expert from Newnham College Cambridge, who helped excavate the site, said the small loops on the arms of the Trumpington cross, worn shiny by rubbing against the fabric, showed the woman probably wore the cross during her short life, at a time when the Anglo-Saxon aristocrats were gradually converting to the powerful new religion.

The find sheds further light on a period once known dismissively as the dark ages, now being revealed by archaeology as a time of superb craftsmanship and complex international trade routes.

While the body of the prince who was buried at Sutton Hoo was laid in a ship under a great mound of earth, and the warrior at Prittlewell in an oak plank chamber hung with his weapons and treasures, a small group of bed burials have been discovered, all believed to be of women, all from the same region and the same late 7th century date.

Lucy said the beds may well have been the ones the women used in life, as they are all believed to be pieces of real furniture, not made specially for a funeral ceremony. At Trumpington the evidence suggests the bed was lowered first into the ground, and then the body, uncoffined, laid on it.

Scraps of textile found under the chain may reveal what she wore when she went to her grave. The same Anglo-Saxon word, leger, can mean either a bed or a grave.

"It is striking that such a young woman was of such importance to own and be buried with an object as valuable as the cross. And it's almost unnerving that there was an important Anglo-Saxon settlement so close to us of which we had absolutely no records," she said.

The fields had already yielded a wealth of iron age and earlier material but the Anglo-Saxon finds were a complete surprise. The bones and teeth are in good condition, so further scientific tests should be able to establish where the little group came from, what their diet was, and whether they are related - though it will probably always be a mystery how they ended up, so young, buried in a field in Cambridgeshire.

The cross is going through a treasure valuation and inquest process, but the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge hopes to acquire and display it.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/ ... axon-grave
Cow and woman found in Cambridgeshire Anglo-Saxon dig
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-ca ... e-18580332

Archaeologists described the find as "unique in Europe"

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Archaeologists excavating an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in Cambridgeshire say the discovery of a woman buried with a cow is a "genuinely bizarre" find.

The grave was uncovered in Oakington by students from Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Central Lancashire.

At first it was thought the animal skeleton was a horse.

Student Jake Nuttall said: "Male warriors might be buried with horses, but a woman and a cow is new to us."

He added: "We were excited when we thought we had a horse, but realising it was a cow made it even more bizarre."

Co-director of the excavation, Dr Duncan Sayer, from the University of Central Lancashire, said: "Animal burials are extremely rare, anyway.

Grave goods including brooches indicated the woman was of high status
"There are only 31 horse burials in Britain and they are all with men.

"This is the first animal to be discovered with a woman from this period - the late 5th Century - and it's really interesting that it's a cow, a symbol of economic and domestic wealth and power.

"It's also incredibly early to find any grave of a woman buried with such obvious wealth."

'Unique' burial
The skeleton was found with grave goods including brooches and hundreds of amber and decorated glass beads.

"She also had a complete chatelaine [keychain] set, which is an iron girdle and a symbol of her high status," Dr Sayer said.

"It indicates she had access to the community's wealth.

"She is almost certainly a regional elite - a matriarchal figure buried with the objects that describe her identity to the people who attended her funeral."

Joint director Dr Faye Simpson, from Manchester Metropolitan, said: "A cow is a big thing to give up.

"It's a source of food and something that would have been very expensive to keep, so to sacrifice it would be a big decision.

"They would have wanted to give her something really important to show respect and they wouldn't have done that for just anybody.

"That's why we don't find cows with burials," she said.

Dr Sayer added: "The cow burial is unique in Europe which makes this an incredibly exciting and important find.

"I don't think I'll find anything as significant as this again in my lifetime."
Soldiers uncover 27 ancient bodies on Salisbury Plain

All the burials at the mound, which was under attack from burrowing badgers, were excavated by soldiers from The Rifles

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Soldiers have unearthed 27 bodies during an archaeological dig on Salisbury Plain.

Troops from The Rifles, injured in Afghanistan, were excavating the 6th Century burial site at Barrow Clump, as part of a programme of rehabilitation.

The bodies, including Anglo-Saxon warriors, had been buried with a range of personal possessions.

Rifleman Mike Kelly said: "As a modern day warrior, unearthing the remains... fills me with overwhelming respect."

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

I have been to war myself and I can imagine what the soldier would have felt as he went into battle”

Rifleman Mike Kelly
1 Rifles
Barrow Clump, a 40m (131ft) barrow, is sited on the Defence Training Estate on Salisbury Plain near the village of Figheldean.

According to county archaeologist, Melanie Pomeroy-Kellinger, it is the only remaining "upstanding Bronze Age mound" of a group of 20 mounds.

"All the others were ploughed flat but this one managed to survive," she said.

"But there are at least 70 badger sets - and badgers have been attacking the barrow and chucking things out.

"So a decision was taken to completely excavate what's left of it."

A project was set up by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), English Heritage and Wessex Archaeology for a team from The Rifles to excavate all the burials at the monument.

Continue reading the main story
Discovering the dead

Burial mounds, also known as barrows in England, are artificial hills of earth and stones built over the remains of the dead
They were usually reserved for members of the social elite or Anglo-Saxon royalty - ordinary people were usually cremated or buried in more humble graves
They were first constructed in about 4,000 BC up to the late pre-Christian era. England's most famous barrow is at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk
Mound One at Sutton Hoo was excavated in 1939 by Basil Brown, who discovered a lavish tomb and the remains of a 90ft (27m) long ship
Archaeologists believe it is the tomb of Raedwald, leader of the Wuffing dynasty of the East Angles, dated to AD 625
Source: BBC Religion

How do archaeologists make ancient bones give up their secrets?
By the end of July, artefacts uncovered included shield bosses, brooches, amber and glass beads, spear heads and a wooden drinking vessel.

'Sign of respect'
"I never imaged that we would uncover such amazing artefacts," said Rifleman Mike Kelly from 1 Rifles.

"I discovered a warrior that had been buried with his shield placed across his face, which I believe to be a sign of respect.

"I have been to war myself and I can imagine what the soldier would have felt as he went into battle."

The artefacts are due to taken to Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes.

Rowan Kendrick, from 5 Rifles, said: "My best subject at school was history and I really enjoyed school trips to museums.

"But I can't believe that when I visit the Wiltshire Heritage Museum I will be looking at artefacts that I have found."
There's a short article on page 10 of this month's Current Archaeology about this too. I typed this out because as far as I'm aware they don't put the magazine online so any mistakes are mine. There's probably something in British Archaeology magazine too but I haven't read that yet....:

...The 6th-century inhumation cemetery at Barrow Clump is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, on English Heritage's register of at-risk sites due to extensive damage by badgers.

Soldiers from the Rifles have excavated and recorded 24 burials of warriors, women, and children, with three shield bosses, five spearheads, and a spear ferrule showing that some of the men were buried with weapons.

Together with glass and amber beads, a Roman broach, and Anglo-Saxon square-headed and disc brooches, the star find so far has been a small wooden drinking vessel, bound with bronze and remarkably well preserved.

Corporal Steve Winterton of 1st Battalion The Rifles said the project had inspired him and seven comrades to enrol at Leicester University to study archaeology later this year...

Obtain a copy here:
Ipswich waterfront Saxon dig unearths 300 graves

A team of 38 people is excavating the site on Great Whip Street

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An archaeological dig at Ipswich waterfront has unearthed 300 skeletons and evidence of an old church.

The excavation is taking place before 386 homes are built on Great Whip Street by Genesis Housing Association.

It is believed the Saxons occupied the site in the 7th Century and burials are believed to have taken place there until the 16th Century.

Rubbish pits were also uncovered during the dig, led by Oxford Archaeology and Pre-Construct Archaeology.

Paul Murray, senior project officer with Oxford Archaeology, said: "A certain amount of historical research was done before we got here, so we had a general idea of what to find, but this has exceeded our expectations.

Church 'robbed'
"We had evidence that a church was in the area, but we've uncovered its location, so it's a significant find.

The graves and burial mounds have revealed 300 skeletons so far
"Many churches fall into disuse, deteriorate, whatever's left is robbed for the materials and it falls out of living memory."

Seventh Century burial mounds have been found at one end of the 2.8 acre (1.15 hectare) site, while the 9th/10th Century church and its graveyard were found at the other end.

Helen Webb, who is overseeing the study of the skeletons, said: "We're got the full range of ages, but it's the normal cemetery population with lots of the very young and very old dying.

"Once they're excavated, the skeletons will be analysed to estimate age, sex and look for joint disease, scurvy, rickets and that sort of thing.

"Then they will be re-buried in consecrated ground as close to this site as possible."

'Paupers' cemetery'
The graves have already revealed cases of leprosy and syphilis, but no jewellery or other artefacts have been found.

Mr Murray said: "More commonly you'd have shroud pins, but we've not had them either, so we're assuming it's a paupers' cemetery."

Genesis, which is paying for the archaeological work, is due to begin building the new houses and apartments in October, covering up the former graves.

Mr Murray said: "There's a certain amount of disappointment, but archaeology is a process of preservation by record and the work will add to the overall knowledge of the history of Ipswich."
ramonmercado said:
Ipswich waterfront Saxon dig unearths 300 graves
That gets a big Wow! from me, for two reasons. Having spent a couple of seasons sailing out of Ipswich dock (just a stone's throw east of this site), I used to know the area fairly well, but in the 80s it was covered by old Victorian housing, with no obvious Saxon connections.

My second reason for Wow! is that I don't recognize the buildings in the photograph. If as I think they are along the northern edge of the docks, they are all new build or reconstructed, covering the site of what were once merchants' warehouses and grain stores, in my time in Ipswich.

So it seems that 'my' Ipswich is disappearing into history, just as the nearby Saxon settlement once did. A bit spooky, somehow.
rynner2 said:
My second reason for Wow! is that I don't recognize the buildings in the photograph. If as I think they are along the northern edge of the docks, they are all new build or reconstructed, covering the site of what were once merchants' warehouses and grain stores, in my time in Ipswich.
I've just looked at the docks on Google Maps, and my identification of the northern side of the docks is correct. (Even though the photos in Google Street are 3 1/2 years old, the rebuilding was well underway then!)
Staffordshire Hoard inquest rules most new items 'treasure'
4 January 2013 Last updated at 22:11

Pieces of Anglo-Saxon gold found in the same field as the Staffordshire Hoard have been declared treasure at an inquest in Stafford.
Coroner Andrew Haigh ruled that 81 of the 91 objects found were treasure, as they were more than 300 years old with a precious metal content of above 10%.

The items were found after the field in Hammerwich was ploughed in November.
Experts from the British Museum will value the items in March.

Lincoln Castle skeleton 'could be Saxon king or bishop'
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-li ... e-23113241

Volunteers working in the Finds Room

The team has found nine skeletons from the Saxon period buried on the site

A skeleton found in Lincoln Castle could belong to a Saxon king or bishop, according to archaeologists.

The skeleton was in a stone sarcophagus believed to date from about AD900.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

We are all excited about lifting the lid and seeing who is in there and what is buried with him”

Mary Powell
Programme manager
Although the sarcophagus has not yet been opened, an endoscopy revealed the remains were buried alongside other objects - possibly gold.

Programme manager Mary Powell, of Lincoln Castle Revealed, said: "We think it's somebody terribly important - possibly a bishop or a Saxon king."

'Very rare'
The sarcophagus is buried approximately 3m (9ft) underground.

"At the moment, we can see the side of the coffin, but not the lid," Ms Powell added.

"It's going to be incredibly challenging to get it out, so we are being very careful.

"There is a danger it could disintegrate because of the change in environmental conditions.

Continue reading the main story
Lincoln Castle
Skeleton found at Lincoln Castle
A Roman fort was built at the site in about AD60
The Romans abandoned Lincoln and Britain in AD410
William the Conqueror built Lincoln Castle in 1068 on the site of the Roman fortress
For 900 years the castle was used as a court and prison
Lincoln is home to one of only four surviving Magna Carta copies
Lincoln's Magna Carta

"When we do finally lift the lid, the plan is to record what's inside immediately, in case it starts to disintegrate."

She hoped there would be carving on the lid which might reveal the identity of the skeleton.

"We know so little about the Saxon period and Saxon coffins are very rare," she said.

"We are all excited about lifting the lid and seeing who is in there and what is buried with him."

The limestone sarcophagus was found alongside a Saxon church with eight other skeletons, all buried in wooden coffins, one in a woollen shroud.

The team has been carrying out DNA examinations of the eight skeletons. They also hope to do a digital reconstruction of the skeleton in the sarcophagus.

Ms Powell said archaeologists were looking into a possible connection with an 8th Century king of Lindsey named Blaecca.

The dig also revealed two Roman town houses. A skeleton of a baby was buried nearby.

The £19.9m Lincoln Castle Revealed project is aimed at creating a visitor attraction at the venue, including an underground vault in which to display Lincoln's Magna Carta.

Many of the finds will go on display when the project is completed in 2015.

"Nobody really expected to discover as much as we have," said Ms Powell. "We don't think one room is going to be big enough. We may need to find a bit of extra space."
Anglo-Saxon gravestone auctioned in Dorchester

Rare Anglo Saxon gravestone

The gravestone is engraved with an early Christian Celtic cross

An Anglo Saxon gravestone dating from the time of Alfred the Great is to be auctioned in Dorset later.

The 9th Century artefact was discovered in the garage of a house in Guildford, Surrey, buried under some cardboard.

Engraved with a Celtic cross, the 81cm-high (32in) stone is expected to attract the attention of museums and private collectors.

Duke's Auctioneers, of Dorchester, said grave markers like this "very rarely come on the market".

'Danelaw country'
The stone was originally found during road construction in the early 20th Century at Little Eaton, Derbyshire.

It appeared at auction, where it was bought by the present owner who had "almost forgotten about it", according to Duke's.

Experts from Buxton Museum, in Derbyshire, have confirmed the grave marker, which is expected to fetch up to £6,000, dates from the 9th Century.

A spokesperson at the saleroom said: "This grave marker actually comes from an area of the country known as the Danelaw because it was under the influence of the Danes, and their laws held sway.

"The area [which covered northern and eastern England] was defined in a treaty following the defeat of the Danish warlord, Guthrum, in a battle with King Alfred at Edington in AD878."

Alfred, who died in 899, was King of Wessex but was referred to as King of the English towards the end of his reign, after he united areas of the country and defeated the Danes in several battles.
Lincoln Castle archaeologists to extract sarcophagus

Archaeologists are preparing to extract a sarcophagus discovered at Lincoln Castle and thought to contain "somebody terribly important".
The stone sarcophagus, believed to date from about AD900, was found alongside the remains of a church which was previously unknown.
Archaeologists have been on site for almost a year and their work came to an end this week.
They believe the sarcophagus could contain a Saxon king or bishop.

Archaeologist Cecily Spall said: "There's lots of careful planning to do in the next few weeks but as I say we do hope to get it out and have a look inside.
"Logistically it's quite a difficult job because the trench is deep and the sarcophagus obviously weighs a lot."

Lincoln Castle is being refurbished and the archaeologists have been digging where a new centre to house the Magna Carta will be built.

As well as the sarcophagus, several other human skeletons were found alongside remains of the church, which is thought to be at least 1,000 years old.
Ms Spall said: "It's very unusual for archaeologists to encounter a church which hasn't been detected in historical documents."

The team also found remains of a stone Roman townhouse, which is thought to have been demolished in the 9th or 10th Century.

Some of the finds will go on display at the castle.
They date from the 4th Century up to the 20th Century.
The older artefacts found include pottery, cooking pots, animal bones, ice skates, and dice made from animal bone and antler.


Lincoln Castle
A Roman fort was built at the site in about AD60
The Romans abandoned Lincoln and Britain in AD410
William the Conqueror built Lincoln Castle in 1068 on the site of the Roman fortress
For 900 years the castle was used as a court and prison
Lincoln is home to one of only four surviving Magna Carta copies

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-li ... e-23817713
Mildenhall Museum ready for Anglo-Saxon warrior & horse

A Suffolk museum has taken delivery of the skeletal remains of an Anglo-Saxon warrior and his horse.
The remains were found in 1997 at RAF Lakenheath and they are going on display at nearby Mildenhall Museum.
The warrior is thought to have died in about AD 500 and the find included a bridle, sword and shield.

The bones are being displayed under glass in the same position they were found in and the public will be able to see them next month.
Suffolk Archaeological Service has been in charge of the skeletons, which were part of a cemetery containing 427 graves.
The warrior is believed to have been born locally and was about 30-years-old when he died.

Jo Caruth, senior project officer with the Suffolk Archaeological Service, said: "Finally it's here in Mildenhall where it belongs and it's the first time we've seen the complete bridle with the horse since it was dug up.
"What really made this find special was the very good bone preservation and man and horse were buried together, whereas in other places they are in separate graves.
"We've brought in osteo-archaeologists to make sure the bones are positioned in the right way in the display."

The museum has been doubled in size to house the new exhibit using £789,813 provided by Forest Heath District Council.
The display is being opened to the public on 8 October

Removal of Lincoln Castle 'Saxon king' sarcophagus begins
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-li ... e-24459825

The skeletons are uncovered

The sarcophagus was found with eight skeletons alongside a Saxon church
Work has begun to remove a limestone sarcophagus unearthed at Lincoln Castle, which may contain the remains of a "Saxon king or bishop".

The unopened box, thought to date from AD900, was found by archaeologists alongside the remains of a previously unknown church earlier this year.

An examination with an endoscope revealed it contains human remains.

Project manager Mary Powell said removing it from the ground was a "delicate" operation.

She said that the sarcophagus, which is buried about 3m (10ft) underground, would need to be slid out horizontally in order to preserve it.

"We know there is a hairline crack in the lid and we don't want to do any damage - we want to get it out as intact as we possibly can."

She added that she hoped the lid would reveal the identity of the person inside the sarcophagus, which may also contain gold alongside the remains.

"There might be nothing carved on it, but it would seem likely [that there is]," she said.

The dig was undertaken as part of the £19.9m Lincoln Castle Revealed project, which will see the building of a new centre to house Lincoln's Magna Carta and a tower to provide access to the castle walls.

The project is due to be completed in 2015, when many of the finds from the dig will be put on display.
Anglo-Saxon remains found during Rushton excavation work
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-no ... e-25774172

Surface of grave, with pottery, skull and finger bone

An early Anglo-Saxon pottery vessel, a skull and a bone were unearthed at one of the four graves

The remains of four Anglo-Saxon adults have been found in shallow graves during excavation work at a river in Northamptonshire.

The graves, 12in (30cm) below ground level, were found during the work to create a new backwater at the River Ise at Rushton near Kettering.

A 6th Century bowl was also found in the graves.

Archaeologists said they were "excited" by the graves, which have since been covered again with soil.

Jim Brown, senior project officer at Northamptonshire Archaeology, said the discovery of burial goods with the body remains indicated the people were "certainly pagan".

"The 6th Century date... suggests we're looking at settlers - people who have come here to establish a small farmstead on very good agricultural land," he said.

"They would have been subsisting at a small agricultural level."

Continue reading the main story

The term Anglo-Saxon refers to settlers from the German regions of Angeln and Saxony, who made their way over to Britain after the fall of the Roman Empire around AD 410
The Anglo-Saxon period lasted for 600 years, from 410 to 1066
The early settlers kept to small tribal groups, forming kingdoms and sub-kingdoms
BBC History: Anglo Saxons
Mr Brown said there were no plans for any further excavations at the site unless it came under threat of development.

"The best preservation is not to dig at all unless the environment changes," he said.

The £23,000 project to create the backwater - an important habitat for fish - is being led by the River Nene Regional Park and the Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust and is funded by Defra.

Simon Whitton, river restoration officer for the Nene Valley Nature Improvement Area, said they had been aware of archaeological interest in the area, so an archaeologist was on site throughout the works.

But when the graves were found, his first thoughts were ones of dismay.

"We've had one or two problems... and the project had been delayed and delayed, so when the four bodies were found I was quite dismayed there'd be a further delay," said Mr Whitton.

However, it only took 24 hours to assess the find before the decision was taken by archaeologists to recover the graves with soil to twice the original depth in order to protect them.

"The graves have certainly generated a lot of interest in the project," he added.

The graves were discovered in November, but the find has been kept quiet to keep the site safe from treasure hunters.
Bone fragment 'could be King Alfred or son Edward'

Fragment of pelvis/King Alfred statue

The fragment of pelvis dates back to the period in history when King Alfred died

A fragment of pelvis bone unearthed in Winchester in 1999 may belong to King Alfred the Great or his son Edward the Elder, academics have said.

It was found at a previous dig at Hyde Abbey and has been dated to 895-1017 - the era the king died.

Experts were originally testing remains exhumed last year from an unmarked grave at St Bartholomew's Church, where it was thought he was buried.

But they were found to be from the 1300s, not 899, when the king died.

The fragment of pelvis had been among remains stored in two boxes at Winchester's City Museum and was tested by academics at Winchester University after their study into the exhumed remains proved fruitless.

Continue reading the main story
Royal differences

At first glance, the find appears similar to the discovery of King Richard III's skeleton beneath a Leicester car park.

But there are a number of key differences between the two.

DNA testing proved beyond "reasonable doubt" the bones thought to be Richard III's matched descendants of the monarch's family.

Dr Katie Tucker, who analysed the bones found in Winchester, admits it will not be as easy to do likewise in this case.

She said: "This is a path that may be worth pursuing but it's a very long way to go back, an extra 500 years to go back than Richard III, it's always going to be more of a difficult task to find a descendant."

More tests and investigations are planned, but it could be a while yet before the Alfred the Great 'discovery' attracts Richard III levels of attention and drama.

Who was King Alfred the Great?
BBC Two: The Search for Alfred the Great
The university and the community group behind the search, Hyde900, are now calling for further excavations at Hyde Abbey Gardens in the hunt for more remains.

'Hard to prove'
Experts said the bone, recovered from the site of the abbey, came from a man who was aged between 26 and 45-plus at the time of his death, leading them to believe it could be either Alfred or his son Edward.

Dr Katie Tucker, whose examination of the bones will feature in a BBC documentary, said: "These are the bones that were found closest to the site of the high altar.

"As far as we know, from the chronicles and the records, the only individuals close to the site of the high altar who are the right age when they died and the right date when they died would either be Alfred or Edward."

The remains at St Bartholomew's Church, which carbon dating showed to be from the wrong era, were exhumed last year amid security fears after publicity surrounding the discovery of Richard III's remains under a Leicester car park.

Dr Tucker said she was later made aware of the remains found at Hyde Abbey.

No analysis of that find was conducted due to a lack of funding and because a bone discovered next to it was found to be from the 17th or 18th century, and it was not thought to be of any interest.

Dr Tucker then arranged for tests to be carried out on the pelvic bone.

She said: "The simplest explanation, given there was no Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Hyde Abbey, is that this bone comes from one of the members of the West Saxon royal family brought to the site.

DNA match
"Given the age at death of the individual and the probable male identity, the plausible candidates are King Alfred, King Edward the Elder, or the brother of King Edward, Aethelweard."

Richard Buckley, co-director of the University of Leicester's archaeology services, led the search for Richard III.

Dr Katie Tucker
Dr Katie Tucker believes the fragment belongs to a member of the West Saxon royal family
He said it would be "very hard to prove" the bone belongs to King Alfred.

"With Richard III we had to build a case with lots of different threads, we knew historic accounts... including trauma on the skeleton, we knew he died a violent death," he said.

"We got to the point with the balance of probability that it was him, with the DNA it meant we could say it was beyond reasonable doubt.

"The difficulty with this bone is that it is only one bone, you're having to rely on historical accounts of only two males being brought and reburied there - Alfred and his son - it depends if any males may have been buried without documentation.

"If they could find an articulated skeleton there could be other clues."

The King Alfred team said it may be possible to extract DNA from the pelvic bone but the problem would be finding another DNA source to check it with.

Dr Tucker said they tried to get a sample from Alfred's granddaughter, who is buried in Germany, but efforts failed as her grave was not well preserved.

The investigation is the subject of a BBC2 documentary due to be broadcast on Tuesday 21 January at 21:00 GMT.
Anglo-Saxon 'kings' village' discovered in Rendlesham

The replica Anglo-Saxon helmet at the Sutton Hoo visitor centre

Experts believe the warrior king buried at Sutton Hoo lived at Rendlesham

Archaeologists believe they have found the site of the royal settlement of the Anglo-Saxon kings of East Anglia.

A village at Rendlesham in Suffolk, which would have included a royal hall, was mentioned by the historian the Venerable Bede in the 8th Century.

Suffolk's county archaeologists have been studying a 120-acre (50 hectare) area about 5 miles (8km) from the Sutton Hoo burial site.

An exhibition of some of the coins and jewellery will open this week.

Sutton Hoo contained a burial ship full of treasures under a burial mound.

'Ordinary people'
It was believed to be the grave of King Raedwald, who ruled East Anglia (modern-day Norfolk and Suffolk) and was buried in about AD625.

The Venerable Bede mentioned the "king's village" at "Rendlaesham" in his 8th Century book An Ecclesiastical History of the English People.

Angus Wainwright, archaeologist with the National Trust which owns Sutton Hoo, said: "It's very likely it's King Raedwald's palace and maybe where his descendents lived as well because it's got a longer life than Sutton Hoo.

Rendlesham bead
A bead found at Rendlesham measures about 0.4in (1cm) in length
"Whereas Sutton Hoo is all about death, this village site is about what craftsmen and ordinary people were getting up to in their daily lives."

Prof Christopher Scull, of Cardiff University and University College London and a member of the study team, said: "The survey has identified a site of national and indeed international importance for the understanding of the Anglo-Saxon elite.

"The quality of some of the metalwork leaves no doubt it was made for and used by the highest ranks of society."

Experts believe the king's hall in the timber village would have been about the size of a modern large detached house.

The studies began in 2008 after the owner of the land in Rendlesham alerted Suffolk County Council to illegal looting by people with metal detectors.

The exhibition takes place at the Sutton Hoo Visitor Centre near Woodbridge from 15 March to 31 October.
Fisherman lands golden treasure - in field

The 7th Century gold fish was discovered with a metal detector

A County Down fisherman has landed the catch of his life - in a field.

Barry Shannon, 22, found a 7th Century gold object, resembling a fish, on his aunt's farm near Downpatrick last March. It was officially declared a treasure on Wednesday at Belfast's Coroner's Court. An expert told the court the fish was Anglo-Saxon in origin and may have been part of a larger item, like a belt buckle.

Mr Shannon had recently taken up metal detecting as a hobby and struck gold on his fourth attempt.

However, he had no idea what he had discovered.

"I'm a fisherman and it looked like a spinner you have on the end of a line, without a hook," he said.

"I actually offered it to my cousin and asked him if he wanted it, but he told me to keep it as I'd been out there all day."

Barry Shannon and his aunt, Jean McKee, outside the court in Belfast
Barry Shannon and his aunt, Jean McKee, outside the court in Belfast
Mr Shannon showed it to his aunt, Jean McKee, who owned the land where the item was found.

She took the fish to Downpatrick museum for further examination.

Nothing similar could be found in any museum on the island of Ireland.

It was not until a Cambridge University expert was contacted that the mystery was solved.

The fish is almost identical to another one that was found on an elaborate Anglo-Saxon gold and silver belt buckle in Crundale, Kent. It is now in the British museum.

But how a similar object ended up in County Down remains unexplained.

Dr Greer Ramsey, curator at National Museums Northern Ireland, described it as an "unusual" find as there was no settlement of Anglo-Saxons in Ireland.

"We don't know how it got there. One explanation might be that there was an element of trade going back and forth across the Irish sea," he said.

Or it is possible the fish may be connected to Downpatrick as an early site of Christianity in Ireland.

The fish, which is 6cm in length, is about 85% gold, with a copper alloy core.

The item will now go to the British Museum for valuation and it is thought it will eventually end up in the Ulster Museum.
'Unique' Anglo-Saxon coin could give royal murder clue

An Anglo-Saxon silver penny that may give a clue to the murder of an East Anglian king by a neighbouring monarch has been found in a Sussex field.
Darrin Simpson, 48, from Eastbourne, found the coin with his metal detector.

The 1,200-year-old coin, minted during the reign of Ethelbert II, will be auctioned in London next month.
It is believed the coin may have led to Ethelbert's beheading by Offa, King of Mercia, as it was struck by the East Anglian king as a sign of independence.
Auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb said the coin was expected to fetch between £15,000 and £20,000 at the auction on 11 June.

The coin is only the fourth-ever found from the reign of Ethelbert, who ruled in the 8th Century.
The other three are all in museums and have a different design.
The coin found by Mr Simpson is the only one to have Ethelbert's name and the title Rex on the same side.
"I thought it was a Saxon coin... and I was very happy about that," said Mr Simpson.

It was not until he contacted the Early Medieval Corpus of Coin Finds at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge that he realised how important his discovery was.
"It was a bit of a shock, really. This is a unique coin," he said.

The auctioneers believe the coin was minted during Ethelbert's reign with the approval of the more powerful King Offa.
But the fact that Ethelbert's name and the word Rex were on the same side of the coin may have been seen as a degree of independence unacceptable to Offa, who then had him murdered.

Christopher Webb, head of coins at Dix Noonan Webb said: "This new discovery is an important and unexpected addition to the numismatic history of 8th Century England."

rynner2 said:
'Unique' Anglo-Saxon coin could give royal murder clue

An Anglo-Saxon silver penny that may give a clue to the murder of an East Anglian king by a neighbouring monarch has been found in a Sussex field.
Darrin Simpson, 48, from Eastbourne, found the coin with his metal detector.

Anglo-Saxon coin fetches four times expected auction price

An Anglo-Saxon silver penny that could be linked to the beheading of an East Anglian king has been sold at auction for £78,000.
The coin, which was expected to fetch between £15,000 and £20,000, was found by a man using a metal detector in a field in Sussex in March.

An anonymous internet bidder bought the penny at an auction in London.
Will Bennett, from auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb, described the sale as "a fierce contest to earn a unique coin."
The 1,200-year-old coin, minted during the reign of Ethelbert II in the 8th Century, is only the fourth found from the time he was on the throne.

The penny is engraved with Ethelbert's name and the word Rex on the same side of the coin.
It is believed that may have led to Ethelbert's beheading by Offa, King of Mercia, as it was intended by the East Anglian king as a sign of independence.

The auction saw bids from internet users, those in the room and people who had left written bids.
The hammer came down when bids reached £65,000, but the addition of auctioneer's commission means the artefact's new owner will pay £78,000 in total.
Mr Bennett said "This is a fantastic result, and shows the market for coins such as this is very strong indeed."


Yes, £13,000 for banging a gavel is a 'fantastic result'! ;)
Amateur treasure hunter's £1m find of Anglo Saxon coins
The 5,251 silver coins, unearthed in a farmer's field, form one of the largest hoards of Anglo Saxon coins ever found in Britain.
By Rosa Silverman
3:23PM GMT 01 Jan 2015

An amateur treasure hunter could be in line to receive part of a £1 million windfall after unearthing a hoard of rare Anglo Saxon coins in a Christmas dig.
The 5,251 silver coins, which are more than 1,000 years old, were found in a farmer’s field near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.
They are said to form one of the largest hoards of Anglo Saxon coins ever found in Britain.

The dig was organised by the Weekend Wanderers Detecting Club and was attended by more than 100 people.
The individual who made the discovery could split the takings with the land owner if and when the coins are sold


'Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War' exhibition at British Library - (until 19th Feb 2019)

Went along a few days ago. Highly recommended if you have an interest in the period.
Incredibly comprehensive exhibition, mostly documents but several pieces of jewellery and other artefacts - highlights include the Lindisfarne gospels, a few Staffordshire hoard items, the Winfarthing Pendant, the Alfred Jewel and the exhibition concludes with the Doomsday book! Proper once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see so many unique Anglo-Saxon treasures in one place.

However do be prepared for badly placed information panels positioned below the artefacts, not above, so the shadows of fellow exhibition-goers made them hard to read.

Thanks! Might go to that.
OK, thanks for the advice. I hate London at the best of times.
Another important pendant identified.

An Anglo-Saxon gold pendant, found near a site where a similar item worth £145,000 was dug up, probably belonged to a woman of "high social status".

The Winfarthing Pendant was found in 2014 near Diss in Norfolk. The latest pendant, with a central cross motif, was found in 2017 and it has been declared treasure. Julie Shoemark, Norfolk's finds liaison officer, said it made a "valuable contribution to our understanding of Saxon society".

A genuine Anglo-Saxon forgery.

A "blundered" counterfeit of a 7th Century coin described as rare by experts has been declared treasure.

Suffolk coroner Nigel Parsley was told the coin was an unofficial copy of a gold Merovingian tremissis, originally minted in Dorestad between 630 and 650. It was heard the legends on both sides of coin, found near Woodbridge, were spelt wrongly.Archaeological officer Faye Minter said Anglo-Saxon coins were valuable and "rare, counterfeit or not". She said it was thought the coin was used for jewellery, as it had been pierced and there was a "general lack of wear".

Artefacts being returned to Southend.

A royal burial site found between a pub and Aldi supermarket has been hailed as the UK's answer to Tutankhamun's tomb.

Workers unearthed the grave, which contained dozens of rare artefacts, during roadworks in Prittlewell, near Southend, Essex, in 2003. Tooth enamel fragments were the only human remains, but experts say their "best guess" is that they belonged to a 6th Century Anglo-Saxon prince. It is said to be the oldest example of a Christian Anglo-Saxon royal burial.

Now, after 15 years of expert analysis some of the artefacts are returning to Southend on permanent display for the first time. When a team from the Museum of London Archaeology (Mola) excavated the site, they said they were "astounded" to find the burial chamber intact. The remains of the timber structure, which would have measured about 13ft (4m) square and 5ft (1.5m) deep, housed some 40 rare and precious artefacts.

Artefacts being returned to Southend.

A royal burial site found between a pub and Aldi supermarket has been hailed as the UK's answer to Tutankhamun's tomb.

Workers unearthed the grave, which contained dozens of rare artefacts, during roadworks in Prittlewell, near Southend, Essex, in 2003. Tooth enamel fragments were the only human remains, but experts say their "best guess" is that they belonged to a 6th Century Anglo-Saxon prince. It is said to be the oldest example of a Christian Anglo-Saxon royal burial.

Now, after 15 years of expert analysis some of the artefacts are returning to Southend on permanent display for the first time. When a team from the Museum of London Archaeology (Mola) excavated the site, they said they were "astounded" to find the burial chamber intact. The remains of the timber structure, which would have measured about 13ft (4m) square and 5ft (1.5m) deep, housed some 40 rare and precious artefacts.


I've heard of treasures being returned to Egypt and bodies being returned to Indigenous peoples but I've never heard of anything being returned to Southend.

I'm hoping this is a new trend for Great Britain.

If anyone digs up and finds my optimism can they return it to me, please? I think I possibly lost it around London, or might have been Melbourne or it fled to Wales - not sure.