WENDOVER, United Kingdom — HS2 archaeologists have discovered hundreds of items buried with wealthy Anglo Saxons — including eyeliner and ear wax removers! Experts say they found the “grave goods” after excavating 141 burial sites in Wendover, Buckinghamshire.
The artifacts ranged from jewelry and beads, to swords, shields, and spears — all buried with the dead. Interestingly, the resting places also contained “personal hygiene kits,” including ear wax removers, toothpicks, and tweezers.
Researchers even found brooches, combs, and a cosmetic tube that may have contained a substance used as eyeliner. The site is one of the largest Anglo Saxon burial grounds unearthed in Great Britain.
The items, uncovered last year, date back to the fifth and sixth centuries, a period filled with gaps in historical and archaeological records. They will therefore “contribute a significant amount to the understanding of how people in Anglo-Saxon Britain lived their lives,” the HS2 archaeologists say in a statement to SWNS.
Experts say they will help analyze “what culture and society was actually like during the undocumented time era.”
“This stunning set of discoveries on the HS2 route can tell us more about how our predecessors lived, fought and ultimately died. It is one of the best and most revealing post Roman sites in the country,” renowned British historian and television presenter Dan Snow says, according to SWNS.
Almost three quarters of the graves contained unusually rare grave goods of high quality, which suggests the site was the final resting place of a wealthy Anglo-Saxon community.
“1500 years ago people in Britain stopped writing things down. Traditionally this period has been dismissed as a Dark Age. But archaeology has filled the gaps,” Snow adds. “By studying the things our forebears have left in the ground, their glass, jewelry, weapons and even their bodies, we can build a rich picture of a dynamic and vital period of our history.”
The team of around 30 field archeologists from INFRA JV, working for HS2 and Fusion JV, also found evidence of Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Roman activity, but it was the presence of the Anglo-Saxon burial ground that appeared the most significant.
“As we near the end of our archaeology field work on Phase One of HS2, we are just at the beginning of our understanding of how the discoveries will improve our historical knowledge of Britain,” lead Archaeologist for HS2 Ltd, Mike Court, tells SWNS.
“The archaeological finds made at this site in Wendover will not only be of interest to the local community but are of national importance, providing a valuable insight into life in Anglo-Saxon Britain.”
The site contained a total of 138 graves, with 141 inhumation burials and five cremation burials. Along with the personal hygiene items, the graves contained over 2,000 beads, 89 brooches, 51 knives, 40 buckles, 15 spearheads, and seven shield bosses.
Archaeologists noted how the goods with each burial appeared to be tailored to each individual, which suggests the items would have held some significance to the deceased and the mourners at the graveside. For example, one female’s grave contained a vast array of goods — the quality of which suggest that she was of high-status amongst the buried population at the site.
The woman was buried with multiple silver and copper rings, items made from ivory, and a complete ornate glass bowl made of pale green glass. Researchers believe it was made at the turn of the fifth century.
“This significance of this site for our historical and archaeological understanding of Anglo-Saxon Britain is huge,” says lead Archaeologist for Fusion JV, Dr. Rachel Wood. “It is not a site I would ever have anticipated finding – to have found one of these burials would have been astonishing, so to have found so many is quite unbelievable.”
A program of assessment and analysis will be carried out over the next few years which will provide more insight into the stories of the people buried at the site in Wendover, and the history of the extraordinary artifacts uncovered.
South West News Service writer Lauren Beavis contributed to this report.