While digging up a site for an upcoming housing development near the small village of Overstone, Northamptonshire, England, workers made a very significant discovery so the company that bought the land, Barratt and David Wilson Homes, called in archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology (MoLA) to perform excavations.
Archaeologists have described the ancient burial site as being “by far the biggest Anglo-Saxon cemetery” that has ever been found in the county. In fact, they found two different burials from completely different time periods – the Anglo-Saxon burial from about 1,500 years ago and a Bronze Age burial from around 4,000 years ago.
During the 12-month excavation project, archaeologists unearthed a total of 154 Anglo-Saxon burials along with almost 3,000 artifacts from weapons to jewelry. The jewelry recovered included approximately 2,000 beads, 150 brooches, 75 wrist clasps, 15 rings, and 15 chatelaines (decorative belt hooks).
As for the weapons, they unearthed about 40 knives, 25 spears, and 15 shields. Other items uncovered included bone combs and cosmetic kits. Another interesting find was a piece of Anglo-Saxon textile that was preserved by a metal brooch.
They even found a settlement that contained a total of 42 structures from the Anglo-Saxon period in addition to 46 prehistoric burials, 4 Bronze Age buildings, and 3 Bronze Age round barrows (burial mounds). Simon Markus, who is the project manager at MoLA, described the discoveries as being “rare to find both an Anglo-Saxon settlement and a cemetery in a single excavation.”
He went on to say, “The excavations will help us understand the way people lived in both the Anglo-Saxon period, around 1,500 years ago as well as the Bronze Age, nearly 4,000 years ago,” adding, “The human remains will tell us about diet, health and even the origins of the people themselves whilst their buildings can teach us what their day-to-day lives were like and how they utilized the local landscape in these two different periods.”
John Dillion, who is the managing director at Barratt and David Wilson Homes South Midlands, weighed in by stating, “We’re blown away by the findings at our site in Overstone and have enjoyed learning more about what the land was previously used for.” “It is amazing to think that settlers have been building homes on this site for around 4,000 years, and we hope to continue this long-standing tradition with our new and already flourishing community.”
All of the discoveries from the excavation site are now in the possession of the MoLA where they are being further analyzed. Pictures of the site can be seen here and a few photos of the artifacts can be viewed here.