Teenage girl from the mid 7th century ‘bed burial’ + ‘gold cross’
One of the earliest Anglo-Saxon Christian burial sites in Britain has been discovered in a village outside Cambridge. The grave of a teenage girl from the mid 7th century AD has an extraordinary combination of two extremely rare finds: a ‘bed burial’ and an early Christian artefact in the form of a stunning gold and garnet cross.
The girl, aged around 16, was buried on an ornamental bed — a very limited Anglo-Saxon practice of the mid to later 7th century — with a pectoral Christian cross on her chest, that had probably been sewn onto her clothing. Fashioned from gold and intricately set with cut garnets, only the fifth of its kind ever to be found, the artefact dates this grave to the very early years of the English Church, probably between 650 and 680 AD.
Photograph courtesy Ricky Patten, University of Cambridge
Seen during excavation work in 2011, the body of the Anglo-Saxon noblewoman—which dates back to between A.D. 650 and 680—was laid to rest on a “burial bed.”
Constructed from wood and metal, the bed had a slatted base and a straw mattress.
Burial beds are extremely rare, but the few that are known also date to the early Anglo-Saxon period, the study team said. Why only a chosen few were buried in their beds remains a mystery.
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