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Burials of Saxon Age in Kent

Nature volume 142, page 606 (01 October 1938) | Download Citation



ONE of the most important discoveries of burials of Saxon age in recent years is recorded from Risley, Horton Kirby, four miles south of Dartford, in Kent. In the course of road-making on the housing estate of the District Council, burials Were brought to light in which were human bones, spear-heads, the umbo of a shield, pottery fragments, and an almost complete glass vessel. Fortunately the finds were brought to the notice of the Dartford Antiquarian Society, and their character as Saxon or Jutish recognized. Further excavation made it evident that this was the site of an extensive cemetery, although another, excavated in 1867, existed only a mile away to the north. That the present site had been in use for burial purposes even before Saxon times was indicated by a Roman cinerary urn and a circular cist burial. The prevalence of inhumation points to a Jutish origin, the period of the burials being from the sixth to the ninth centuries of our era. The people must have been of exceptionally fine physique, as a number of the skeletons are those of men more than six feet in height. So far more than seventy graves have been exposed. The burials as a rule are shallow, not more than two feet deep. In one instance only have valuables been found-in the grave of a woman, in which were five gold brooches and four beads of amethystine quartz. The brooches, it is stated in a report on the excavations in The Times of September 16, were circular, of filigree Work, with precious stones inset, and represent a style of ornament peculiar to Kent, of which this is the Westernmost example. One fine burial of a warrior with shield-umbo, sword and spear, is to be removed and reassembled complete, with the bones, for exhibition. The excavations are being continued on a part of the site which is to be set aside as an open space. A selection of the finds has been on view in the Dartford Borough Museum.

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