Second Anglo-Saxon cemetery with fascinating grave goods unearthed near Stonehenge
Salisbury Plain may be best known for Stonehenge, but over the past month, the chalk plateau has uncovered other, more concealed secrets.
In April, in Bulford, Wiltshire, an Anglo Saxon cemetery of around 150 graves containing beautiful grave goods was discovered.
And now another cemetery with 55 graves, just 7 miles (11km) down the road in the village of Tidworth, has been found.
The 1,300-year-old Anglo-Saxon cemetery was discovered on land marked for a £70 ($102) million housing development for army families.
Most of the the burials contained personal effects or significant items.
The majority of the items were small iron knives, although other finds included combs, pins made of bone, beads and pierced coins thought to form necklaces. There were also several spearheads.
The land, in Tidworth, Wiltshire, is part of a new housing development to build 322 new homes for Army families.
‘The earliest documentary evidence we have for Saxon settlement at Tidworth dates to 975AD,’ Simon Flaherty, site director for Wessex Archaeology, said.
‘This excavation potentially pushes the history of the town back a further 300 years.’
The first results suggest the burials represent a cross-section of a local community, with men, women and children all present.
‘The site at Tidworth has produced some fascinating archaeology, Project manager Bruce Eaton said.
‘The mid-Saxon cemetery is of particular importance in its own right.
‘But, taken together with the recent excavation of the Anglo-Saxon cemetery on MOD land at Bulford, which was of a similar date, we now have the opportunity to compare and contrast the burial practices of two communities living only a few miles apart and who would almost certainly know each other.’
One of the graves found was of a 6ft (1.8 metre) man that contained an unusually large spearhead and a conical shield boss, possibly indicating his status as a warrior.
A rich female burial had bronze jewellery, beads, a bone comb, a chatelaine – decorative belt hook or clasp – and a finely decorated bronze work-box.
The items suggest the woman’s likely importance within the household and wider community.
The finds will eventually go to Devizes Museum in Wiltshire.
This is the second site of Anglo Saxon graves found in Wiltshire in the last month.
Archaeologists unearthed a cemetery of 150 graves holding beautiful grave goods, including an intricate comb, jewellery, a ‘sewing box’ and intriguing shells in Bulford, Wiltshire in April.
There were also indications the site has been of spiritual significance for 5,000 years with collections of Neolithic goods suggesting it may also have been an important burial site for Stone Age man.