- More than 20 burials dating back to 5th century AD discovered at Lincolnshire site
- Many lavish burial items belonged to women including amber necklaces, glass, and rock crystal beads and
- personal items such as tweezers
- The dig will be featured on BBC 4’s Digging for Britain
Archaeologists from the University of Sheffield have uncovered a previously unknown Anglo-Saxon cemetery.
Excavations have uncovered more than 20 burials at the extraordinary cemetery in the Lincolnshire Wolds dating back to the late 5th to mid-6th centuries AD.
The dig at the site in Scremby, Lincolnshire was led by Dr. Hugh Willmott and Dr. Katie Hemer from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology in collaboration with Dr. Adam Daubney, the Lincolnshire Finds Liaison Officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
The cemetery was first brought to light when a local metal detectorist began to find a number of Anglo–Saxon artifacts, including copper gilded brooches, iron shield bosses and spearheads.
The finds were typical of those found in early Anglo–Saxon burials, therefore, it was important to excavate the site to ensure any further artifacts were retrieved, recorded and preserved before they could be destroyed by agricultural activities.
International volunteers, students from the University of Sheffield, and members of the RAF from nearby stations took part in the excavation which is the first to have been extensively investigated since the nineteenth century.
Dr. Hugh Willmott, the Senior Lecturer in European Historical Archaeology from the University of Sheffield, said: “Almost without exception, the burials were accompanied by a rich array of objects, in keeping with the funerary rites adopted amid the early centuries of the Germanic migrations to eastern England.
“What is particularly interesting is the significant proportion of very lavish burials which belonged to women.
These women wore necklaces made from sometimes hundreds of amber, glass, and rock crystal beads, used personal items such as tweezers, carried fabric bags held open by elephant ivory rings, and wore exquisitely decorated brooches to fasten their attire.
2 women even received silver finger rings and a style of silver buckle commonly associated with Jutish communities in Kent.
Furnished burials belonging to males were also identified, including a number buried with weaponry such as lances and shields.
Dr. Willmott added: “Children were notably absent in the parts of the cemetery unearthed this year, however, one of the most striking burials was that of a richly dressed woman who was buried with a baby cradled in her left arm.
“The preservation of the skeletal remains, as well as the many graves finds, provide an exciting opportunity to explore the social and cultural dynamics of the community who chose to bury their dead on this chalky outcrop.”
In order to understand as much as possible about the site and those buried there, a series of scientific investigation are underway at the University of Sheffield by the Department of Archaeology.
The human remains are undergoing a complete osteological assessment, whilst stable isotope examination of teeth and bone will identify where the individuals grew up as children and what food resources they ate.
Dr Katie Hemer, Lecturer in Bioarchaeology at the University of Sheffield, said: “Analysis also extends to a number of the finds, including the amber beads, which are being provenanced in collaboration with colleagues from Sheffield’s Department of Physics; we will analyze the elemental composition of the metalwork and identify the elephant species which produced the ivory rings.
“The project’s multi-faceted investigation which incorporates cutting-edge scientific techniques will enable Sheffield archaeologists to ask and answer significant questions about early AngloSaxon communities in eastern England.”
The excavation will feature on Digging for Britain on BBC4 at 9 pm on 28 November 2018.
Presenter Professor Alice Roberts will be interviewing Dr. Hugh Willmott in the studio. Viewers will see the excavation unfold and will hear the exciting results of some of our preliminary investigations.
The University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology is one of the most respected archaeology departments in Europe, which gives its students access to the latest innovations in the field conducted in a dynamic and vibrant global community.
This is a brooch found at Anglo-Saxon cemetery unearthed by archaeologists.