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Saxon / Anglo-Saxon Archaeology & Artefacts

Some interesting artefacts also found.

An Anglo-Saxon burial ground with 138 graves found along the route of HS2 is one of the largest ever uncovered in the UK, experts have said.

A skeleton with a weapon embedded in it, jewellery and weapons were among the finds in Wendover, Buckinghamshire. Evidence of Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman activity was also found.

Archaeologist Rachel Wood said the site's significance for the "historical and archaeological understanding" of Anglo-Saxon Britain was "huge".

The site contained 141 regular burials and five cremation burials. The male skeleton was found with a sharp iron object embedded into its spine, which experts believe may have caused or factored into his death.

Other items unearthed in the excavation last year include 89 brooches, more than 2,000 amber beads, 51 knives, 40 buckles and 15 spearheads.

A number of objects likely to have been used for grooming were also found, including toiletry sets with ear wax removers and toothpicks, tweezers, combs and even a cosmetic tube that might have been used as eyeliner or similar.

Roman jewel recycled.

A Roman jewel engraved with a chariot and four running horses was found set in a silver Anglo-Saxon pendant by a metal detectorist.

The small piece of jewellery was found in a field near Kingsey, Buckinghamshire, in May 2019.

Historian Edwin Wood said its "high-status" Sutton Hoo-era owner was someone who would have wanted "a direct link with Rome's power and authority".

It was declared treasure by Buckinghamshire Coroner's Court.


Medieval necklace found near Northampton 'internationally important’

Archaeologists have found a "once-in-a-lifetime" gold necklace dating back to 630-670 AD and described as the richest of its type ever uncovered in Britain.

The jewellery, found near Northampton, has at least 30 pendants and beads made of Roman coins, gold, garnets, glass and semi-precious stones.

The 1,300-year-old object was spotted in a grave thought to be of a woman of high status, such as royalty.

Archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology (Mola) found the necklace during excavations ahead of a housing development in Harpole, west of Northampton.
The rectangular pendant with a cross motif forms the centrepiece of the necklace and is the largest and most intricate element.
Made of red garnets set in gold, Mola specialists believe it was originally half of a hinged clasp before it was re-used.

X-rays taken on blocks of soil lifted from the grave also revealed an elaborately decorated cross, featuring highly unusual depictions of human faces cast in silver.

Mola conservators said the large and ornate piece suggests the woman may have been an early Christian leader.

Experts said the skeleton had fully decomposed apart from tiny fragments of tooth enamel. However, the combination of grave finds suggested it was of a very devout high-status woman such as an abbess, royalty, or perhaps both.

A handful of similar necklaces from this time have previously been discovered in other regions of England, but none are as ornate as the "Harpole treasure”

The discoveries will be featured on BBC Two's Digging for Britain in January, with Prof Alice Roberts getting an exclusive look at the objects and delving deeper into the ongoing conservation and analysis.

Woman’s Name and Doodles Found Hidden in 1,200-Year-Old Religious Manuscript

Historians have discovered a woman’s name scratched into the pages of a 1,200-year-old religious document, which offers new insights into the role women played in medieval book culture.

Jessica Hodgkinson, a historian at the University of Leicester, made the find while inspecting a manuscript from the eighth century. Using specialized 3-D photography and digital imaging techniques, Hodgkinson and collaborators discovered the word “Eadburg” 15 times throughout the pages of the MS Selden Supra 30, a version of the New Testament’s Acts of the Apostles written in Latin.


[She] also found a series of mysterious human-like figures scribbled throughout the manuscript. Two figures appear to have mouths, eyes and noses, while another has hands and arms.


In their quest to uncover the Eadburg’s identity, researchers found nine women who went by that name living in England between the seventh and tenth centuries. They suspect the name may refer to an abbess who lived in Kent during the eighth century, as one particular Eadburg—the abbess of Minster-in-Thanet—likely had access to religious texts.

That theory also aligns with what researchers have learned about the manuscript’s historical locations. They think an unknown author wrote the manuscript in Kent sometime between 700 and 750, and that it was later transferred to the monastery of St. Augustine’s in nearby Canterbury.

The technology the researchers used, called photometric stereo workflow, analyzes 2-D images for 3-D information, such as the height of the paper’s surface. Then, it produces renderings that reveal any 3-D characteristics on the page.

With MS Selden Supra 30, the process showed markings that were 15 to 20 microns deep, “equivalent to less than a fifth of the width of a human hair,” per the University of Leicester. This discovery led researchers to surmise that whoever made the inscriptions likely used a drypoint knife or stylus without any ink. The person may have chosen to make the marks stealthily for several reasons, such as a reverence for the text or a lack of access to ink.


maximus otter
Here's an example of a thirteenth century boy's notes, homework and doodles:

(Old Novgorodian: онѳиме, Onfime; also Anthemius of Novgorod) was a Novgorodian boy who lived in Novgorod (present-day Russia) in the 13th century, some time around 1220 or 1260. He left his notes and homework exercises scratched in soft birch bark which was preserved in the clay soil of Novgorod. Onfim, who was most likely six or seven at the time, wrote in the Old Novgorodian dialect of Old East Slavic. Besides letters and syllables, he drew "battle scenes and drawings of himself and his teacher".


Full Article:
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Possible Pagan Temple of the East Anglian Kings Discovered.

A 1,400-year-old temple discovered at Suffolk royal settlement​

1,400-year-old temple discovered at Suffolk royal settlement
Rendlesham Revealed: showing the archaeological remains including the probable temple or cult house (left hand side) and boundary ditch (centre). Credit: Jim Pullen

A possibly pre-Christian temple from the time of the East Anglian Kings, some 1,400 years ago, has been found at Rendlesham, near Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, by a team of archaeologists led by UCL researchers.

The discovery was made over the summer by Suffolk County Council's Rendlesham Revealed community archaeology project. Last year the project uncovered the remains of a large timber royal hall, confirming the location was a royal settlement of the East Anglian Kings.
This year's excavations also uncovered evidence of fine metalworking associated with royal occupation, including a mold used for casting decorative horse harnesses similar to the one from the nearby princely burial ground at Sutton Hoo.

The royal compound is more than twice the size than had been previously thought. It's bounded by a 1.5-kilometer-long perimeter ditch that encloses an area of 15 hectares, or the equivalent of about 20 football pitches. The royal residence was part of a wider settlement complex covering 50 hectares, which is unique in the archaeology of 5th to 8th century England in its scale and complexity.

This year's breakthrough caps a three-year campaign of excavation that challenged expectations and transformed understanding of the period.

The project's principal academic advisor, Professor Christopher Scull (UCL Institute of Archaeology), said, "The results of excavations at Rendlesham speak vividly of the power and wealth of the East Anglian Kings, and the sophistication of the society they ruled. The possible temple, or cult house, provides rare and remarkable evidence for the practice at a royal site of the pre-Christian beliefs that underpinned early English society. Its distinctive and substantial foundations indicate that one of the buildings, 10 meters long and 5 meters wide, was unusually high and robustly built for its size, so perhaps it was constructed for a special purpose. It is most similar to buildings elsewhere in England that are seen as temples or cult houses, therefore it may have been used for pre-Christian worship by the early Kings of the East Angles."

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More on Rendlesham.

The discovery of a 1,400-year-old "possible temple" near Sutton Hoo is the latest in a series of archaeological finds that has revealed the scale and wealth of an Anglo-Saxon settlement. Historians have long-been intrigued by a reference by the 8th Century monk-chronicler Bede to the royal complex at Rendlesham, Suffolk. After more than a decade of surveys and excavations, the site has exceeded their expectations. So, what has been revealed so far?

How was the site found?​

Fragment of a mould used for metalworking (left) with horse harness mount

Evidence of high quality craftsmanship has been found, including a fragment of a mould (left) used for metalworking a horse harness mount

The discovery of the royal settlement goes back to 2007, when a landowner reported illegal metal detecting on his land. It is is about five miles (eight km) from the famous Sutton Hoo ship burial, discovered in 1939. King Raedwald, the first king of the East Angles to convert to Christianity and who died in AD 625, is believed to be buried there. The landowner consulted the archaeological service at Suffolk County Council and agreed to a pilot project to understand what might have been stolen.

Four skilled, legal detectorists surveyed the 172ha (425 acre)-farm at least twice between 2009 and 2014, bagging more than 100,000 items, each with their own geolocation tag.

Gold and garnet sword pyramid mount

By the time the Rendlesham Revealed community archaeology project began, experts knew it was an important site

Geophysical and aerial surveys identified pits and ditches in the same areas as the 5th to 8th Century metalwork finds.

By the time the council's Rendlesham Revealed four-year community dig began in 2022, archaeologists knew it was the location of an important Anglo-Saxon settlement, but archaeologist Prof Chris Scull said its "scale is beyond anything anyone would have predicted when we first recognised the site".

But evidence suggested it was the "king's village" at "Rendlaesham", referred to by Bede in his book An Ecclesiastical History of the English People.

Medieval Child Found Buried with a Hard-Boiled Egg in Germany by Team of Archeologists

In 2014, archaeologists in Germany unearthed the grave of a medieval boy with a strange object inside. Sitting atop the boy’s bones were the calcified remains of a hard-boiled egg. The gravesite was discovered in Erding, a district in the southeastern state of Bavaria.


The skeletal remains inside were determined to belong to a boy who was about 5 years old at the time of his death. In addition to the egg, belts and weapons were also found alongside the remains, officials said. They are characteristic of the seventh century A.D., potentially meaning the site is about 1,300 years old. The egg, which was likely placed in the grave hard-boiled, undoubtedly had some sort of symbolic importance for the family of the deceased, officials said.


maximus otter
Probably the kid's favourite meal. Life was tough back then.
There's a hole in the bucket ...

Archaeologists at Sutton Hoo, a 1,400-year-old boat burial in England, have discovered pieces of a broken bucket from the Byzantine Empire.

A photo of the Bromeswell bucket

Over the years, archaeologists have pieced together pieces of the Bromeswell Bucket, which likely came from the Byzantine Empire. It is now on display in the High Hall at Sutton Hoo. (Image credit: James Dobson, National Trust Images)

While working at the Anglo-Saxon site of Sutton Hoo in England, archaeologists found the missing pieces of a 1,500-year-old copper bucket imported from Turkey. The bucket, which is at least a century older than the famed ship burial, may provide a window into how people lived in early medieval times.

A team of archaeologists, conservators and volunteers from Time Team, the U.K.'s National Trust and FAS Heritage discovered the metal fragments in late June during excavation and metal-detecting work at Sutton Hoo.

Sutton Hoo is best known for its magnificent seventh-century ship burial, whose 1939 discovery was featured in the 2021 movie "The Dig." But the burial was just one part of a complex of 18 separate burial mounds found near Suffolk in southeastern England, many of which contained jewelry and coins. Evidence of imported goods — including an Egyptian bowl, Eastern Mediterranean silverware and a Middle Eastern petroleum product called bitumen — has also been discovered at Sutton Hoo. ...

Oh that's what the bits of metal was. I saw Time Team find it on one of their updates but they didn't say what it was they were getting excited about, saving it for the later videos.
Living with the Dead: Human Burials in Anglo-Saxon Settlement Contexts.

Although the communities of Anglo-Saxon England usually buried their dead in separate cemeteries, a handful of burials have been found in or alongside buildings, settlement ditches, and other domestic features. Such burials have so far escaped systematic study. This article presents a corpus of thirty graves in rural settlement contexts between the fifth and ninth centuries across England. It analyses the demographics, treatment, and pathology of the burials, as well as their spatial associations. Informed by
recent approaches to ‘placed’ deposits, it explores why certain individuals might have been selected for burial in domestic contexts, and how living with the dead affected rural communities.

Source: Sofield, C. M. (2015). Living with the Dead: Human Burials in Anglo-Saxon Settlement Contexts. Archaeological Journal, 172(2), 351–388.


  • Sofield, C. M. (2015). Living with the Dead Human Burials in Anglo-Saxon Settlement Contexts. ...pdf
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Life after death: Shrouded burials in later Anglo-Saxon England.

On his deathbed, the eighth-century Mercian saint Guthlac leaves instructions for his own funerary preparation to a brother named Beccel: "After my soul departs from this body, you shall go then to [Pega] my sister… and bid her set my body in the coffin, and wind it in the sheet which Ecgburh sent me… when the body and the soul part, this body shall be wound in the garment, and laid in the coffin" (Felix, Life of St Guthlac, Goodwin 1848: 84). After Guthlac’s death, Pega buries him as instructed. Twelve months later, she reopens Guthlac’s tomb, where his body is found to be uncorrupted as if he is asleep. The linen garments are “of the same newness as when they were first put around the body” (Goodwin 1848: 90). Praising Christ, Pega wraps the body in a new shroud and reburies Guthlac “in a memorable and honourable place”

Source: Mui, S. (2015). Life after death: Shrouded burials in later Anglo-Saxon England. Archaeological review from Cambridge, 30(1), 150-156


  • Mui, S. (2015). Life after death Shrouded burials in later Anglo-Saxon England. Archaeological...pdf
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