From the grave
AN Anglo-saxon cemetery with six rare, well-preserved 7th–9th-century wooden coffins and graves, perhaps the earliest known examples in the country, has been discovered in Norfolk. Archaeologists from the Museum of London discovered the site, final resting place of a community of early Christians, at Great Ryburgh in advance of works to improve local flood defences.
Tim Pestell, curator at Norwich Castle Museum, where some of the finds will be kept, comments: ‘The site was in use in the heyday of the Anglo-saxon kingdom, positioned next to a strategic river crossing. We have no documentary sources relating to this site, and finds like this help us understand the kingdom in a fascinating period when Christianity and the Church were still developing on the ground.’
‘This cemetery has only been revealed because of current planning regulations, which require archaeological surveys to be carried out before work on a sensitive site starts,’ adds Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, which funded the project.
The Anglo-saxon kingdom of East Anglia boasted a warrior aristocracy of great wealth. Indeed, in the 7th century, under ruler Raedwald, it was the most powerful of the early English kingdoms. Jack Watkins