Anglo-Saxon Christian grave find near Cambridge 'extremely rare'
Published: 16th Mar 2012 07:18:18
An Anglo-Saxon grave discovered near Cambridge could be one of the earliest examples of Christianity taking over from Paganism, archaeologists said.
The skeleton of a teenage girl was found buried on a wooden bed, with a gold and garnet cross on her chest.
The grave is thought to date from the mid-7th Century AD, when Christianity was beginning to be introduced to the Pagan Anglo-Saxon kings.
It was uncovered at Trumpington Meadows by Cambridge Archaeological Unit.
The cross is only the fifth to be discovered in the UK.
Only 12 other "bed burials" have been found.
However, Alison Dickens, who led the excavation, said the combination of a bed burial - where the body was placed in a wooden frame held together by metal brackets - and a Christian symbol, was "extremely rare".
"We believe there has only been one other instance of a bed burial and pectoral cross together, at Ixworth in Suffolk," she said.
The grave of the teenager, who was believed to be about 16 years-old, was one of a cluster of four uncovered at the site south of Cambridge.
The three others were described as more typical Anglo-Saxon burials with no indications of Christianity.
The 3.5cm (1.4in) cross found on the girl's chest had probably been sewn onto her clothing.
Other artefacts, including a bag of precious and semi-precious stones, and a small knife were also found with the body.
Archaeologists said the craftsmanship of the cross was comparable to the royal Anglo-Saxon hoard discovered at Sutton Hoo, in Suffolk.
Dr Sam Lucy, a specialist in Anglo-Saxon burial from Newnham College, Cambridge, said the method of burial and quality of the jewellery could indicate the girl was from a noble or royal family.
"Christian conversion began at the top and percolated down," she said.
"This cross is the kind of material culture that was in circulation at the highest sphere of society."
She said the idea of burying a body with "grave goods" for the afterlife was "counter to the Christian belief of soul and not body continuing after death".
However, she believed the merging of burial rites showed the grave was "right on the cusp of the shift from Pagan to Christian".
Scientists from Cambridge Archaeological Unit now plan to analyse the skeletons and artefacts.
They hope to determine whether there was any relationship between the Christian girl and the three other skeletons found in close proximity to her.
At 04:53:55 in HeadlinesIran has cut state subsidies on petrol in a move that saw prices rise at midnight by up to 75%.
At 04:41:10 in HeadlinesUS President Barack Obama is in Seoul for a visit that comes amid concern that North Korea may be planning a fourth nuclear test.
At 04:36:51 in BusinessConsumer prices in Tokyo rose at their fastest pace in 22 years in April, surging 2.7% from a year earlier, according to preliminary data.
At 04:10:36 in BusinessEd Miliband will unveil plans to tackle the "epidemic" of zero-hours contracts in a speech in Scotland later.
At 03:47:29 in HeadlinesBolivia's military chiefs have ordered the dismissal of more than 700 troops who have been protesting to demand better working conditions.
At 03:35:43 in WorldWith the World Cup just six weeks away and the Olympics on the horizon, social dysfunction in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro is subject to increasing international scrutiny.
At 03:28:21 in HeadlinesUK science is to get one of the biggest, most capable polar research vessels in the world.
At 03:22:33 in EnglandAs Liverpool fans dare to dream of a first league title in 24 years the club has revealed its own lofty plans for their ground.
At 03:10:58 in PoliticsPeople in Scotland will decide in September whether the country should become independent. A Yes vote would mean changes at Westminster, starting with the number of MPs:
At 02:53:41 in HeadlinesBrazilian police have clashed with residents of a Rio de Janeiro shantytown that was hit by deadly protests on Tuesday.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Anglo-Saxon Christian grave find near Cambridge 'extremely rare' [Online] (Updated 16th Mar 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1416807/Anglo-Saxon-Christian-grave-find-near-Cambridge-extremely-rare [Accessed 25th Apr 2014]
News In Other Categories
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
Four of the biggest technology firms - Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe - have settled a class action lawsuit alleging they conspired to hold down salaries.
A 15 year-old girl has been cut free after becoming trapped in a children's swing in a park in Denbighshire.
A village museum in East Sussex will go up against Tate Britain and the new £35m Mary Rose Museum in a contest to be named the UK's museum of the year.
Ten candidates will be vying for three European parliament seats in Northern Ireland, it has been confirmed.
As Liverpool fans dare to dream of a first league title in 24 years the club has revealed its own lofty plans for their ground.