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Anglo-Saxon King's Burial Site Found

A picture of the Prittlewell Prince at Southend Central Museum

A picture of the Prittlewell Prince at Southend Central Museum

© Jack Shoulder

    • Archaeologists found the grave of an Anglo-Saxon king at Southend in Essex in 2004. The king's body is long gone but an amazing collection of treasures buried with him has survived.


      Shows a drawing of a square burial chamber with a man's body laid out in a coffin and various artefacts around him.© Faith Vardy at MOLAS.
        


      This is an artist's drawing of the grave, showing how it might have looked when the King was placed inside.

      The king was buried in a wood-lined chamber (a small room) along with over sixty objects. The room was about four metres square and one and a half metres high. The king was buried almost 1,400 years ago, in around 630 AD.

      Experts don't know for sure that the person buried in the grave was a man, or even that he was a king, but all of the clues suggest those things.

      The value and the number of objects found tell us that the body belonged to someone rich and important. The fact that there was no jewellery found and that there were weapons in the grave make it most likely this was a man.

      These beautiful gold crosses found in the grave are clues that maybe the king was a Christian.


      Shows a photo of two crosses, made from thin foil. One cross is crumpled.© Andy Chopping at MOLAS.
      Among the objects found in the chamber were two gold foil crosses, a gold buckle, some gold braid, gold coins, coloured glass bowls and copper bowls. One decorated bowl was even found hanging on a hook from the wall of the chamber.


      Shows a photo of two blue glass bowls, side by side.© Andy Chopping at MOLAS.
      Some of the finds tell us that the Anglo-Saxons traded with other countries. A decorated flagon (a kind of jug) and one of the bowls found were imported from the eastern Mediterranean, while a folding stool might have come from Italy.

      As well as precious treasures like these, there were some useful objects too. There were buckets, drinking cups, two cauldrons (cooking pots) and the remains of a casket that could have contained material.

      Shows a photo of two green glass bowls, side by side.© Andy Chopping at MOLAS.
      This glass survived 1,400 years underground.

      Ian Blair is one of the archaeologists who worked on the chamber. He said
      "To find an intact chamber grave and a moment genuinely frozen in time is a once in a lifetime discovery. The fact that copper-alloy bowls were still hanging from hooks in the walls of the chamber, where they had been placed nearly 1, 400 years ago, is a memory that I'm sure will remain with all of us forever."
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