Early medieval female burial site, UK ‘most important site ever discovered’ | archaeology

Archaeologists are often stunned, but the London Museum’s archeology team had a hard time uncovering an “exciting” discovery Tuesday, made on the last day of a normally fruitless excavation of spring.

“This is the most important early medieval female burial ever discovered in Britain,” said the excavation’s leader, Levente Bence Balázs, and was almost overjoyed. “Finding something like this is an archaeologist’s dream.”

“I was looking at a suspicious garbage pit when I saw the teeth,” Balázs added, his voice emotional as he recalled this memory. “Then two gold coins came out of the ground and shone at me. Being the first person to see these artifacts that haven’t seen the light of day for 1,300 years is indescribable. But even then, we didn’t quite know how special this discovery would be.”

What Balázs found was a woman buried between 630 and 670 AD—a woman buried in a bed alongside an extraordinary 30-piece necklace of intricately worked gold, garnet, and semiprecious stones. This is, by a kilometer, the richest necklace of its kind ever discovered in Britain, revealing unparalleled craftsmanship in the early medieval period.

There was also a large, elaborately decorated cross buried with the woman, buried face down, another unique and mysterious feature of the tomb’s secrets, and containing rather unusual depictions of a delicate silvery human face with blue glass eyes. The two pots buried next to it are unique in that they contain a mysterious relic yet to be analyzed.

“This is a discovery of international importance. This discovery has jolted the course of history, and the impact will only grow stronger as we delve deeper into this find,” he said. “These mysterious discoveries raise more questions than they answer. There’s more to be discovered about what we found and what it means.”

Many things about the excavation in April were ominous. The small, isolated Northamptonshire village of Harpole, whose name means “dirty pool,” was formerly only annual scarecrow festival and proximity Arguably one of the worst motorway service stations in the UK.

There were no ancient churches near excavations or other burial sites. But thanks to practice developer funded archaeologists, The Vistry Group home builders conducted a search of the area where they were building.

“I’ve been working for Vistry for 19 years and therefore have had a lot of interaction with archaeologists,” said Daniel Oliver, Vistry’s regional coach. “I’m used to Simon. [Mortimer, archaeology consultant for the RPS group] He calls me with great excitement about shards.” Next to him, Mortimer stiffened in protest, and Oliver quickly added: “The pottery shards are very exciting, of course.”

“The day the team discovered the Harpole treasure, I had five missed calls from Simon on my phone,” Oliver said. “I knew then that this was more than just pottery pieces. It’s as exciting as pottery shards.”

The woman—and a woman, though only the crowns of her teeth remain—was almost certainly both an abbess and a princess, an early Christian leader with substantial personal wealth. “Women have been found buried next to swords, but men have never been found buried next to necklaces,” said Lyn Blackmore, an expert on the London Museum’s archaeological team. Experts agree that she must have been one of the first women in Britain to reach a high position in the church.

Although openly religious, his tomb is testament to a changing age in which pagan and Christian beliefs are still in flux. “This is a fascinating burial of unified iconography: the burial has a distinctly pagan flavor, but the tomb also has a largely Christian iconography,” Mortimer said.

Vestry relinquished its rights to the now state-owned treasury. The team hopes it will be displayed locally once the conservation work is complete – a painstaking effort that will take at least two more years.

Oliver is wary of where the original excavation site is. It’s not built on but not marked the same way. “We don’t want people to come with metal detectors,” he said. “That would be a little too much.”

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