Experts from the University College London (UCL) have discovered a “richly furnished” 2,000 year old grave in West Sussex which belonged to a warrior from the Iron Age. An excavation of the site, on the outskirts of Walberton, near Chichester, revealed the warrior was buried with a plethora of weapons, including a sword in a highly-decorated scabbard and a spear.
X-ray analysis of the sword and scabbard revealed “beautiful copper-alloy decoration at the scabbard mouth, which would have been highly visible when the sword was worn in life.”
The dig was commissioned by Linden Homes, which is planning on building 175 new homes in the area, but wanted to find out what was beneath the surface first.
Experts from UCL said it is an “extremely rare find” as only a handful of Iron Age graves have been discovered in the south of England.
The grave has been dated to the late Iron Age/ early Roman period (1st century BC – AD 50).
Archaeology news: Iron age warrior grave found beneath West Sussex
The warrior was buried with a sword
In total four ceramic vessels were placed outside of this container, but still within the grave.
The vessels are jars made from local clays and would usually have been used for food preparation, cooking and storage.
It is likely that they were placed in the grave as containers for funerary offerings, perhaps intended to provide sustenance for the deceased in the afterlife.
Archaeology South-East (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.
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The vessels are jars made from local clays and would usually have been used for food preparation, cooking and storage
“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.”
Archaeologists recently discovered the resting places of more than 50 adults and children in what has been described as an “unusual” archeological discovery.
Scientists say the discovery, at Somerton, near Glastonbury, sheds significant light on life and death in the south-west of Britain after the Roman invasion.
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A 3D recreation of the grave
Many of those buried were of visibly high status, with the position of one woman’s skull indicating her head once rested on a pillow.
As well as this, tiny nails were found at the foot of the graves – this suggesting many of the people were wearing hobnail boots.
Steve Membery, an archaeologist with the South West Heritage Trust said: “This site is a significant discovery – the most comprehensive modern excavation of a Roman cemetery in Somerset.
“The application of technology including aerial drones and techniques such as isotope and ancient DNA analysis offers major opportunities for insights into the lives of the Roman population of Somerton”.