Archaeologists discover 1,500-year-old cemetery in the UK

Hyperaxion Sep 19, 2020

The site, located on the Suffolk coast, was inhabited by Anglo-Saxons around the 6th century and has almost 200 graves.

A 6th-century Anglo-Saxon cemetery was discovered in Suffolk, England – but instead of skeletons, only “shadows” of the corpses were found there. The finding was reported on the Suffolk Today website.

The Archaeological Solutions team, which performs independent archaeological excavation services in the UK, was hired to investigate the site ahead of a new housing development.

“Our team worked hard to carefully excavate 17 cremations and nearly 200 burials and some truly wonderful grave goods,” they said on their Facebook page.

Archaeologists discover 1,500-year-old cemetery in the UK
(Credit: Suffolk County Council).


During the excavation, archaeologists found copper-alloy brooches, wrist clasps, strings of beads made of amber and glass, iron knives, and silver coins.

But they noticed that the bodies that had been buried ended up becoming just “sand-silhouettes” over the centuries.

“Due to the highly acidic soil the skeletons had mostly vanished and were luckily preserved as fragile shapes and shadows in the sand,” explained Andrew Peachey of Archaeological Solutions Ltd.

“These shadows also revealed traces of the wooden coffins that some of the individuals were buried in.”

The specialist added that some of the graves also contained fragments of pottery and, in some cases, complete decorated pots.

“Many of the artefacts were so fragile they had to be block lifted for micro-excavation in the labs at Norfolk Museum Service for analysis and conservation – they were even able to recover pieces of textiles and leather,” Peachey said.

The excavation site was probably inhabited by a small agricultural community some 1,500 years ago. Graves of men, women, children, and babies were discovered.

The acidity of the cemetery's soil made the skeletons disappear.
The acidity of the cemetery’s soil made the skeletons disappear. (Credit: Suffolk County Council).

“We feel privileged to be part of such an exciting find and it quickly became clear that our Woods Meadow development was subject to a significant piece of history,” said John Eldridge, director of Persimmon Homes Anglia, the company that hired the Archaeological Solutions’ team.

“We always take our responsibilities very seriously when it comes to archaeological investigation and we were happy to support the extensive excavations to ensure that Suffolk’s and England’s history could be properly investigated, recovered and recorded.”

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