Iron Age Burial Uncovered In West Sussex

A richly-furnished grave belonging to an Iron Age ‘warrior’ buried 2,000 years ago has been uncovered in West Sussex. Iron weapons had been placed inside the grave, including a sword in a highly-decorated scabbard and a spear. The burial was discovered during an excavation commissioned by Linden Homes, who are developing a site on the outskirts of Walberton, near Chichester, to create 175 new homes.

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. Were they really warriors, or just buried with the trappings of one? The grave is dated to the late Iron Age/ early Roman period (1st century BC – AD 50). It is incredibly rare, as only a handful are known to exist in the South of England.

X-rays and initial conservation of the sword and scabbard reveal beautiful copper-alloy decoration at the scabbard mouth, which would have been highly visible when the sword was worn in life. Dotted lines on the X-ray may be the remains of a studded garment worn by the occupant when buried. This is particularly exciting for the archaeologists as evidence of clothing rarely survives.

The grave also held the remains of a wooden container, preserved as a dark stain, likely used to lower the individual into the grave. 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.

Source: Archaeology News Network

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