Haddenham dig yields finds dating back 1,400 years

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Archaeologists gained a valuable insight into life and death in Saxon England thanks to a dig in Haddenham.

Haddenham dig yields finds dating back 1,400 years
A team of archaeologists from Pre-Construct Archaeology carried out an excavation within the village of Haddenham in advance of the construction of a residential dwelling. The dig uncovered burials dating to the Early Saxon period (6th century AD) [Credit: © Courtesy Pre-Construct Archaeology]

At the start of the month, Pre-Construct Archaeology was invited to excavate a small site in the car park of the Three Kings pub, at the heart of the village, before developers moved on and began work on a new house.

And, despite the dig taking place over a small site, the dig turned up a wealth of finds, including nine burials and plenty of grave goods in what experts believe was a Saxon burial ground.

The bodies discovered are believed to date back to the early Saxon period – around the 6th century AD – and included both men and women, young and old.

Haddenham dig yields finds dating back 1,400 years
The early Saxon man who fell on his shield has been found buried with a knife and spear alongside a jewellery-clad woman during a dig on a residential site in a Cambridgeshire village [Credit: © Courtesy Pre-Construct Archaeology]

Archaeologists believe the people were pagan but, interesting, the burials were aligned east to west, a typically Christian trait.

The burials included a man found lying on a decorative shield, with a knife and a spear also discovered.

A beaded necklace was found around the neck and upper torso of a woman, who was also buried with a belt made with copper and iron fittings.

Haddenham dig yields finds dating back 1,400 years
Grave goods, weaponry and everyday items from the 6th century surfaced during the
excavation in Haddenham [Credit: © Courtesy Pre-Construct Archaeology]

It is not the first time skeletons have been found at the pub, back in 1990, the remains of three people were found along with a shield and a dagger. The story made front page news in the Ely Standard at the time.

Jonathan House, of Pre-Construct Archaeology, said: “Projects such as these prove how even the smallest developments can yield a wealth of archaeological information and details not only of how people lived but also of their treatment toward the dead more than 1,400 years ago.

“This is especially important during those periods, such as the early Saxon era, which have left little or no historical data.”

Author: Daniel Mansfield | Source: Ely Standard [February 20, 2014]

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