Anglo-Saxon treasure dating back more than 1,500 years has been dug up in a Louth-area field from a burial mound.
Two bronze bowls, a gold pendant and iron weapons including a spearhead, two arrowheads and fragments of a sword were found in a field by Alan Smith, a metal detector enthusiast.
They have been confirmed as being dated back to the seventh century. Dr Adam Daubney, find liaison officer for Lincolnshire County Council said that the artefacts clearly once belonged to someone with high status.
He said: “This is a once in a lifetime discovery.
“The finds are exquisite and almost certainly come from a high-status burial that was destroyed through ploughing many years ago.
“The finds date to the seventh century – a time when the elite in society were often being buried in barrows – small artificial mounds of earth.
“The individual would either have been placed into a grave within the mound, or perhaps even into a chamber which was then covered over.
“And the artefacts discovered at this site are rare objects that clearly indicate this was the grave of someone who had an important role in society – perhaps a local ruler.
“This form of burial is a powerful display of status; not only was the individual being buried with a large amount of wealth, the burial mound also became a permanent feature in the landscape.
“This elaborate form of burial has often been seen as evidence for the emergence of kingship.”
This will be the third treasure find in the area within the last eight months.
An Anglo-Saxon island was found in March and new evidence was uncovered to prove the town’s claim that it was the location of Sidnacester Cathedral, in August. Archaeologists revealed that an ‘ordinary-looking field’ in Lincolnshire was actually once a settlement with trading links across Europe.
Four sites including Louth and Horncastle have for around 1,000 years laid claim to the site of the Sidnacester Cathedral. In August, stone found on the Louthstone found on the Louth Julian Bower Playing Field was said to add to growing proof that the town was the landmark location.
Senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield,Dr Hugh Willmott, who has excavated the Louth site, said: “The finds are intriguing. While the gold pendant is an outstanding object, the real treasures are the enamelled bronze hanging bowls*. The metal detectorist found two sets of ‘escutcheons’ – small, round plates that would have been attached to the side of the bowl.
“Hanging bowls are some of the finest pieces of metalwork to have been produced in the Early Medieval period. We don’t fully understand what they were used for; some may have been used in drinking rituals, but we do know from other burials that some were filled with fruit at the time of burial.”
The finds are now being processed under the Treasure Act, and a report is being prepared for the coroner.
*[Hanging bowls are thin-walled, copper-alloy vessels, capable of suspension from three or four hooks mounted, at equal intervals, at the rim of the bowl. The bowls can vary in size from c.135mm to c.460mm. The hooks project from copper-alloy mounts, which are often enamelled, known as escutcheons and which are soldered or riveted to the body of the bowl. Often, other decorative features are attached to the bowl, for instance enamelled discs or bands. The bowls found in the Sutton Hoo ship burial are an example of these types of artefact.]