Shield-wearing [?!] skeleton, necklace and grave goods found in early Saxon inhumations
The discovery of nine bodies in Cambridgeshire could reveal much about the little-known early Saxon period.
An early Saxon man who fell on his shield [?!] has been found buried with a knife and spear alongside a jewellery-clad woman during a dig on a residential site in a Cambridgeshire village.
The discoveries [pics] follow the excavation of 11 skeletons in the village in 1990. Grave goods, weaponry and everyday items from the 6th century surfaced during the excavation in Haddenham, where similar remains – including a double burial of a man and a woman – were first identified more than 20 years ago*.
“A total of nine inhumations were discovered, ranging from the very young to fully grown adults,” says Jon House, of Pre-Construct Archaeology, thanking local residents for their “great interest” and “warm and welcoming” approach to the team during unfavourable weather conditions.
“The burials included an adult male, found lying upon a decorative shield and with a knife and a spear.
“A beaded necklace was found around the neck and upper torso of an adult female, who was also buried with a belt or girdle with copper and iron fittings.
“Projects such as these prove how even the smallest developments can yield a wealth of archaeological information and, in the case of this particular site, details not only of how people lived but also of their treatment towards the dead over 1,400 years ago.
“This is especially important during those periods, such as the early Saxon era, which have left little or no historical data.”
*Robinson, B & Dunhig, C. 1992. ‘Anglo-Saxon burials at the “Three Kings”, Haddenham, 1990’, in Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, Volume LXXXI: 15-38
Abstract: One intact double burial of the pagan Anglo-Saxon period and several disturbed burials were excavated. Three apparently later rectangular pits containing pig burials were also discovered. There is a report on ‘The skeletal material’ by Corrine Duhig (24–32). The burials are thought to date from the first half of the sixth century and there is some speculation as to the location of the settlement they served. Gravegoods included amber beads, glass beads, an iron shield boss, studs, buckle, ferrule, spear head, knife, and latchlifter, a bone comb and spindle whorl, and bronze brooches and tweezers. Finally ‘Appendix A’ (36–7) provides an artefact catalogue, ‘Appendix B’ (37) a burial catalogue, and ‘Appendix C’ (38) an outline of the site matrix.