Archaeology breakthrough: ‘Nationally significant’ discovery changes face of UK history

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The graves, around 200 of them, date back to the 7th Century. Uncovered in Oulton, near Lowestoft in Suffolk, ahead of construction of a housing development. In the burial ground, the remains of men, women and children were found.

Artefacts including brooches, small iron knives and silver pennies were also found at the site.

Suffolk’s Archaeological Service said studies would help establish the graveyard’s links to other local sites.

A spokesman said the site “lies within the Kingdom of the East Angles, made famous by the royal burial ground at nearby Sutton Hoo”.

Sutton Hoo was discovered in 1939.

It included two cemeteries from the 6th to 7th centuries and a ship burial full of treasures believed to be the final resting place of King Raedwald – King of East Anglia from 599 – 624 AD.

The majority of the skeletons are only visible as “sand-silhouettes”.

This is a delicate form of preservation in which the outlines of remains can be seen in granular material.

Also found is what appears to be several generations of a small farming community.

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The county council’s archaeological service said the excavation of such cemeteries in their entirety was rare in England.

It is this that made the discovery “nationally significant” – offering a glimpse into potential wider trends throughout the UK at the same time.

The council’s spokesman said: “It is important we oversee and record this work so that we can understand the community buried here and its connections to other finds in Oulton and the nearby settlements and cemeteries at Carlton Colville and Flixton.”

Andrew Peachey, of Archaeological Solutions Ltd, which carried out the excavations, said the remains of 17 cremations and 191 burials were “painstakingly excavated”.

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He said: “Due to the highly acidic soil the skeletons had mostly vanished and were luckily preserved as fragile shapes and shadows in the sand.”

He added that many of the artefacts were so fragile they had “to be block-lifted for micro-excavation in the labs at Norfolk Museum Service”.

The remains have now been fully excavated ahead of the Persimmon Homes Anglia housing development.

They will undergo specialist analysis and eventually go on public display.

The Anglo-Saxons began to attack Britain towards the end of Roman rule from around 400 AD.

Arriving from Denmark, Northern Germany and the Netherlands, the Anglo-Saxons engaged in fierce battle with Britons who attempted to defend their land.

Being from so many different parts of modern day Northern Europe, the Anglo-Saxons were split up into tribes and attacked various parts of Britain in their designated groups.

This meant that there wasn’t any one Anglo-Saxon ruler, with tribes taking over and dividing sections of Britain for themselves.

They stayed for around 600 years until the Norman Conquest sparked yet another stage in the country’s tumultuous history.

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