ARCHEOLOGISTS have made a rare and “exciting” find of an Anglo-Saxon woman buried with a cow in a dig in Cambridgeshire.
It is the first time the Anglo Saxon grave of a woman has been found to contain an important domestic animal.
Dr Faye Simpson, of the Department of History at Manchester Metropolitan University said: “This is hugely exciting. Usually it is warrior men who are discovered buried with their animals.
“Never before have we found a woman buried alongside a cow. In the 5th century, a cow was a very important to a community’s survival, so to sacrifice one is highly significant and marks her down as having very high status not only in her community, but perhaps in a much wider geographical area.”
The theory is backed by high status finds alongside the remains, including amber beads, three necklaces and copper alloy brooches.
Dr Simpson is working on the dig with colleagues from the University of Central Lancashire and Staff and Oxford Archaeology East and is joined by students from MMU’s Department of History.
And it was one of the students - Kate Smith, 19, who discovered the woman’s grave..
The MMU team will spend a further three weeks at the site at Oakington, just outside Cambridge, but have already unearthed 100 graves, making this one the most significant finds of its kind in the UK.
Faye estimates there may be a further 50 -60 graves in the cemetery which is two minutes walk from a settlement.
Artefacts, including brooches, knives and knives are being conserved by MMU Special Collections.
Jake Nuttall, a history student who is with the team said: “This is a very unusual find and everyone here is very excited by it. It is extremely rare to find this. It’s a very important discovery.”
Two of the MMU students are being working as community outreach officers for the projects, who are promoting the dig on Twitter, Facebook and in local schools.
The find comes after the remains of a group of Anglo-Saxon warriors were found at a burial site on the American military air base at Lakenheath in Suffolk in 2008.
Those warriors and the woman found in Oakington lived about 600AD, when invaders from the continent were establishing kingdoms after battles with the ancient Britons.
Follow the dig on twitter @oakingtondig and facebook oakingtondig.
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