(LONDON) — Archaeologists in the United Kingdom have announced a major historical discovery dating back to as early as the 6th century after finding the buried remains of over 20 people alongside a range of grave goods including knives, jewelery and pottery vessels, officials said.

Scientists working on the National Grid’s Viking Link project — construction of the world’s longest land and subsea interconnector involving installation of submarine and underground cables between the United Kingdom and Denmark — have dug 50 archaeological sites along the onshore cable route since 2020, according to a statement from Wessex Archaeology in the United Kingdom.

“The wealth of evidence recovered is shedding light on life across rural south-east Lincolnshire from prehistory to the present day, with highlights including a Bronze Age barrow and a Romano-British farmstead. The most striking discovery, however, is the remains of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery,” according to Wessex Archaeology.

“The burials in the cemetery deliberately focus on an earlier Bronze Age ring ditch and indicate the funerary landscape was long established,” scientists said. “Archaeologists uncovered the buried remains of over 20 people alongside a range of grave goods including knives, jewellery and pottery vessels. From these 250 artefacts, experts know the cemetery dates to the 6th and 7th centuries AD.”

Among some of the most notable discovery was the burial of a teenage girl and a child, both of whom lay on their sides with the child tucked in behind the older girl, officials said.

“Two small gold pendants set with garnets and a delicate silver pendant with an amber mount were recovered from around the teenager’s head or chest, together with two small blue glass beads and an annular brooch,” according to Wessex Archaeology.

The relationship between the child and the teenager is not yet known — and may never be — but scientists are now conducting research and analysis on the subjects, including isotope and Ancient DNA analysis of the skeletal remains.

Officials say that this critical research could help to identify “familial relationships and broader genetic links both within this community and between others in the region, and the movement of people in wider society.”

“I really enjoyed being part of the project. It was surprising how many artefacts we found across the route – the gold Anglo-Saxon pendant from the burial ground was a highlight as was the outreach with the local communities to share what we found,” said Peter Bryant who led the project for Viking Link. “It has been very interesting and exciting to help unearth the hidden treasures that have lain dormant for hundreds of years, in such a careful way.”

Specialists will also be looking at the artefacts discovered on the burial site as well as the layout of the cemetery in hopes of learning more about the economic, cultural and social factors affecting this specific community, “including the import of exotic goods and the health of those buried within different parts of the cemetery,” according to Wessex Archaeology.

“Although many Anglo-Saxon cemeteries are known in Lincolnshire, most were excavated decades ago when the focus was on the grave goods, not the people buried there,” said Jacqueline McKinley, principal osteoarchaeologist of Wessex Archaeology. “Excitingly, here we can employ various scientific advancements, including isotopic and DNA analyses. This will give us a far better understanding of the population, from their mobility to their genetic background and even their diet.”

Said Wessex Archaeology following the discovery: “As this research unfolds, we hope to greatly extend our understanding of Anglo-Saxon life and death in the region.”

 

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