‘UK’s answer to Tutankhamun tomb' found beside pub in Essex (PHOTOS)
The unexpected find was uncovered during roadworks in Prittlewell, Essex in 2003. The tomb contained rare artefacts, including tooth enamel fragments believed to belong to a 6th century Anglo-Saxon prince.
Archaeologists said they were “astounded” to find the burial chamber still intact. It’s thought to be the oldest known example of a Christian Anglo-Saxon prince, and the items found in the tomb were placed there “as part of a carefully choreographed burial rite.”
Gold crosses were found placed where the prince’s eyes would have been, suggesting he was Christian, but other elements of the tomb point to pre-Christian rituals.
“I think it’s our equivalent of Tutankhamun’s tomb,”said Sophie Jackson of the Museum of London Archaeology.
The discoveries are being displayed in Southend for the first time, after being carefully analysed for 15 years. They include a lyre, an ancient harp, a 1,400 year old wooden box thought to be the only remaining example of painted Anglo-Saxon woodwork in Britain, and a flagon believed to have come from Syria.
Gold coins and drinking vessels were also found inside the timber structure that once measured 13ft (4m) square.
At first, it was suggested that the remains belonged to Saebert, Saxon king of Essex from AD604 to AD616, but carbon dating and other testing suggests the tomb was built at least 11 years before his death. Archaeologists now think the remains are likely those of his brother Seaxa.
“There’s a lot of debate about whether he was a fully-fledged hairy beast Saxon warrior, or younger,” Jackson said of their find. “Had he died before he could really prove himself as he could have been buried with more kit?”
The Museum of London Archaeology have created an interactive version of the tomb online.
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