Archaeologists in the United Kingdom have unearthed the grave of an Iron Age warrior. It has been described as a very rare find. A number of significant artifacts that are 2000 years old have been unearthed. These finds are providing insights into an important stage in ancient British history.
Builders working on 175 new homes on the outskirts of Walberton, near Chichester stumbled across the remains and archaeologists were drafted in to study the grave.
Experts found an iron sword in a highly-decorated scabbard and a spear in the grave. Evidence of a wooden coffin and four ceramic pots were also found. It is likely that the four ceramic pots that were found, had at one time, been filled with food. There were either offerings to a deity or were provided to help the dead man in the afterlife. These wares had been locally produced.
Some initial conservation work was conducted on the sword and it was also X-rayed. This revealed that the scabbard’s mouth was once decorated with an intricate design made of a copper alloy.
X-ray also showed some dotted lines, on the body which could be the remains of a studded piece of clothing worn by the deceased. This was a remarkable discovery as clothing from the ancient past is rarely preserved in archaeological sites. The X-rays could help us to understand the dress of the ancient British.
The team that made the discovery were from Archaeology South-East (ASE), the commercial branch of UCL’s Institute of Archaeology.
ASE archaeologist Jim Stevenson, who is managing the post-excavation investigations into the burial, said: “There has been much discussion generally as to who the people buried in the ‘warrior’ tradition may have been in life.”
“Were they really warriors, or just buried with the trappings of one?”
“Although the soil conditions destroyed the skeleton, the items discovered within the grave suggest that the occupant had been an important individual.”
The Chichester Observer reports that it “is incredibly rare, as only a handful are known to exist in the South of England.” It was later established that it dated from the late Iron Age, roughly from the 1st century BC to 50 AD.
This was at a critical juncture in British history, just before, or at the start of the Roman era. At this time Celtic tribes inhabited much of the country, which was dotted with ring forts and roundhouses. It was also the beginning of Roman influence in the area, after Julius Caesar raids in the 40s BC, which continued with Emperor Claudius conquest of Britain in 43 AD.
Archaeologists are continuing to investigate this new discovery and hope to find out more about the identity and social status of the individual, and the local area and landscape around that time.