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Remains of ancient church and ancient Christians uncovered in England

Remains of ancient church and ancient Christians uncovered in England

They lived somewhere between the seventh and ninth centuries, the people whose remains inhabit six graves along the river Wensum, at least along its current path in Norfolk, England.

In The Guardian:

Six plank-lined Anglo-Saxon graves, believed to be the oldest of their kind found in Britain, have been discovered on a waterlogged site in a river valley in Norfolk, alongside 81 coffins made from hollowed oak trunks.

Archaeologists think the startlingly well-preserved graves were part of the burial ground of an early Christian community, dating from between the 7th and 9th centuries. Tree ring dating is being carried out to establish a more precise age.

The wooden coffins are an uncommon find, as wood usually deteriorates over so many years. The graves are close to what appears to have been a church:

Traces of a timber structure thought to have once been a church have also been found. The graves were dug in an east-west alignment, and marked with timber posts, but unlike Roman or prehistoric burials there were no grave goods with the dead, suggesting that they were Christians.

James Fairclough, who led the excavation for the Museum of London’s archaeology unit (MoLA), said: “The combination of acidic sand and alkaline water created the perfect conditions for the skeletons and wooden graves to survive, revealing remarkable details of Christian Anglo-Saxon practices.”

There was nothing in the historical record to suggest that a sizeable Anglo-Saxon community existed in a fallow field behind landowner Gary Boyce’s house. The medieval church of St Andrew, with its distinctive round tower, is several hundred metres away in the centre of the village.

Photograph from The Guardian, MoLA/PA

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