Silver hoop earrings found among ancient treasure in Biblical city

By Owen JarusDigging HistoryPublished February 21, 2014 LiveScience


A jug containing silver earrings and ingots has been discovered at the ancient biblical city of Abel Beth Maacah in Israel.


Found to the north of a massive structure that may be a tower, the jug and its treasure appear to date back to about 3,200 years ago, long before minted coins were invented, archaeologists said. Curiously, they found no sign that the treasure was hidden, and no one appears to have gone back for it, they added.


"We found it in a small jug leaning against a wall, apparently on a dirt floor," said researchers Robert Mullins, Nava Panitz-Cohen and Ruhama Bonfil in an email to Live Science. "It didn't seem to have been deliberately hidden in a niche or any other hidey-hole."


Panitz-Cohen and Mullins are co-directors of an excavation at the ancient city in Israel that found the treasure last summer, and Bonfil is the excavation surveyor and researcher. They published their initial findings recently in the journal Strata. [See Photos of Biblical City and Silver Treasure]


Why the treasure was not retrieved, and apparently not even hidden, is a mystery. "Perhaps the family needed to leave their home suddenly and hoped to return to retrieve this jug and its contents, but were unable to," the researchers said. Afterward, "this area was covered by accumulating debris and earth over the centuries, [and] no one knew that the treasure was there," they added.


The "massive structure," as the researchers called it in their journal article, may be a tower that overlooked the Huleh Valley. At some point, the structure fell out of use, and the area to the north of it was used for homes. The treasure may date to that time.


The site, now called Tell Abil el-Qameh,was first identified as Abel Beth Maacah in the 19th century based on its location and historical accounts, although little excavation has been done there until now.


When the treasure was discovered, the silver was bunched together in what looked like a big ball. After conservator Mimi Lavi, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Institute of Archaeology, cleaned the ancient silver, the team saw that it consisted of five hoop earrings.


They also found an enigmatic silver object that looks like a twisted knot, as well as several ingots or scrap pieces of silver that would have been used for monetary transactions. At the time, the treasure was abandoned, minted coins had not been invented and the pieces of silver would have been used for trade.


The earrings could have been worn by men as well as women, the researchers noted. "We know from ancient iconography and from burials that men also wore jewelry, so it is possible that these were not just female ornaments," the researchers said.


The period around 3,200 years ago was a time when many cities were destroyed and some civilizations collapsed. Ancient records indicate an enigmatic group called the "Sea People" descended on the Middle East, leading to chaos in the region, although they do not appear to have settled in the area of Abel Beth Maacah.


Archaeologists are unsure how these events affected Abel Beth Maacah or if they have any bearing on the silver treasure. [Photos: The 7 Ancient Wonders of the World]


"It seems most likely that Canaanites were 'in charge' or at least were the main inhabitants" of Abel Beth Maacah, the researchers said. If the city did suffer any destruction, it could have been abandoned for a time and perhaps repopulated by returning Canaanites or by Israelite tribes. "Hopefully, next season, we will be closer to some answers," the researchers said of their forthcoming dig at the site.


The city was used for a long period of time after the silver treasure was abandoned and is mentioned several times in the Hebrew Bible.


According to scripture, a Benjaminite named Sheba ben Bichri, who was rebelling against King David, took refuge in the city. A man named Joab pursued him there and laid siege. A "wise woman," as the text calls her, protested this action, saying Abel Beth Maacah is part of Israel.


"We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord's inheritance?" (From 2 Samuel 20:14-22, New International Version)


The siege ended when the city's inhabitants killed the rebel and threw his head from the wall. Some scholars believe that King David would have lived about 3,000 years ago, roughly two centuries after the silver treasure was abandoned. While the biblical story doesn't shed light on why the treasure was abandoned, it illustrates the importance of the city in the time to come.


Mullins is also a professor at Azusa Pacific University, and Panitz-Cohen and Bonfil are with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Institute of Archaeology.



11,000-Year-Old Settlement Found Under Baltic Sea



A newly discovered underwater site was in fact some sort of a dump in which nomadic Swedes discarded objects.


Evidence of a Stone-Age settlement that may have been swallowed whole by the Baltic Sea has resurfaced near Sweden, revealing a collection of well-preserved artifacts left by nomads some 11,000 years ago.


Dubbed by the local press “Sweden's Atlantis” after the fabled island which according to Greek philosopher Plato sank around 9600 B.C. in the Atlantic Ocean, the newly discovered site was in fact some sort of a dump in which nomadic Swedes discarded objects, according to a report by the Swedish daily The Local.


Buried 52 feet below the surface at Hanö, a sandy bay off the coast of Skane County in Sweden, the items include wood pieces, flint tools, animal horns, ropes, a harpoon carving made from an animal bone and the bones of an aurochs and an ancient cattle which became extinct in the early 1600s.


"There's wood and antlers and other implements that were thrown in there," project leader Björn Nilsson, archaeology professor at Södertörn University, told the Local.


Amazingly, the artifacts have been perfectly preserved because of the abundant oxygen-consuming“gyttja” -- a black, gel-like sediment which is formed when peat begins to decay.


"Around 11,000 years ago there was a build up in the area, a lagoon or sorts ... and all the tree and bone pieces are preserved in it. If the settlement was on dry land we would only have the stone-based things, nothing organic," Nilsson said.


Nilsson’s team is continuing to excavate the area, looking for a potential burial site.


“What we have here is maybe one of the oldest settlements from the first more permanent sites in Scania and in Sweden full stop," Nilsson said.



Source of rocks used to build Stonehenge identified

Posted by TANNAncient, ArchaeoHeritage, Archaeology, Breakingnews, Europe, UK, Western Europe 6:00 PM


A new study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, suggests that the site researchers had previously thought was the starting place of many of Stonehenge's rocks may not have been the source after all. Instead, it looks like the rocks actually come from a different site three kilometres away. Carn Goedog [Credit: Richard Bevins] The findings, bring into question the long-standing theory that people transported the rocks from Wales to Wiltshire in order to build the monument. The research focused on the smaller stones at Stonehenge, called bluestones. The chemistry of these rocks varies, but they all originate from the Preseli Hills in Wales and are thought to have been transported to the Stonehenge site over 4000 years ago. By confirming the source of the rocks, the researchers hope to help answer the long standing question of how around 80 of these bluestones, weighing up to three tonnes each, were transported 250 kilometres from southwest Wales to Wiltshire. 'The Holy Grail question is how were the stones moved and why,' explains Dr Richard Bevins of National Museum of Wales who led the research. 'Many people think humans transported the stones south, down from the Preseli Hills and then up the Bristol Channel on rafts. But a second school of thought says these rocks are glacial erratics that were transported by ice to Salisbury Plain and so were available in the local environment. 'We're trying to discover the source of the stones so archaeologists can excavate sites in order to see if they can find evidence for people working the source stones,' he continues. Scientists have known the bluestones originated from the Preseli Hills since 1923, when H. H. Thomas from NERC's British Geological Survey recognised the distinctive dark grey spotty rocks, known as spotted dolerites, during fieldwork. Further work in the early 1990s then tried to tie down the specific locations of the rocks' origin by matching the chemistry of the Stonehenge bluestones with those at the proposed origin site. 'The earlier research looked at the source of one of the spotted dolerites and tied it down to a specific outcrop, Carn Meini. It seems Thomas wanted all of the bluestones to also come from that same small area so he argued the rhyolites came from a nearby outcrop, Carn Alw. When we looked at it again we realised the descriptions of the rhyolites from Carn Alw and those at Stonehenge didn't look the same at all,' says Bevins. The team took images showing the rocks at Stonehenge and the rocks at Carn Alw. They then asked members of the public with no geological background whether they looked the same. 'We asked people "does A look like B?" and everyone said no,' Bevins continues. 'This is astonishing because this has not been questioned since the original publication by Thomas in 1923.' The team used a new method of identifying the chemical makeup of the rocks, to match the rocks with their origin. They believe that they have now identified Carn Goedog as the source of at least 55 per cent of the spotted dolerite bluestones at Stonehenge. 'If Carn Goedog is the true origin of the dolerites, and Craig Rhos-y-felin is a source of the rhyolitic bluestones then it does bring into question the stones being transported by rafts down to the Bristol Channel, because both of these outcrops lie on the northern side of the Preseli Hills. The rocks would have had to be dragged up the hills, across the summits and back down again before they even reached the waterways. It's just not likely,' Bevins concludes.


Source: PlanetEarth Online [February 18, 2014]


Read more at: http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.de/2014/02/source-of-rocks-used-to-build.html#.Uwpy-WJ_uPt

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Archaeologist’s find in German forest prompts talk of Nibelung treasure

Haul dating back to Roman times includes silver bowls, jewellery and ceremonial robes

Fri, Feb 21, 2014, 01:00


A hobby archaeologist with a metal detector has discovered a trove of gold and silver in a German forest dating back to late Roman times, fuelling speculation it could be the legendary Nibelung treasure that inspired Richard Wagner’s opera cycle.


The haul from the western state of Rhineland Palatinate, worth about €1 million, includes silver bowls, brooches and other jewellery from ceremonial robes and small statues that adorned a grand chair, said archaeologists.


“In terms of timing and geography, the find fits in with the epoch of the Nibelung legend,” Axel von Berg, the state’s chief archaeologist was quoted by German media as saying.

“But we cannot say whether it actually belongs to the Nibelung treasure,” he said, adding that whoever owned it had “lived well” and could have been a prince.


The haul, which was found near Ruelzheim in the southern part of the state, is now at the state cultural department in Mainz, but officials suspect they may not have all of it. Prosecutors have begun an inquiry into the man who found the treasure because they suspect he may have sold some of it, possibly to a buyer abroad, the department said. “The spot where the find was made was completely destroyed by the improper course of action.”


Whether the treasure is the famous “Rhinegold” or not, it seems to have been buried in haste by its owner or by robbers in about AD 406-407, when the Roman Empire was crumbling in the area along the Rhine, von Berg said.


According to Nibelung legend, the warrior Hagen killed Siegfried and sank his treasure in the Rhine. It has shifted its course many times over the centuries, so the treasure need no longer be under water. – (Reuters)



Amateur treasure hunter finds Roman gold hoard

Published: 19 Feb 2014 11:18 GMT+01:00

Updated: 19 Feb 2014 11:18 GMT+01:00


German archaeologists have recovered a find of over a million euros worth of Roman gold and silver jewellery from an amateur treasure hunter who dug it up illegally in a forest.


The unnamed treasure seeker came across the buried treasure, estimated to be worth more than €1 million, while searching a wooded area in southern Rhineland-Palatinate with a metal detector.


The trove includes a number of leaf-shaped solid gold brooches which are thought to have formed part of the decorations from a coat of high office which once belonged a very important Roman ruler. They date from the late antiquity period - around the time of the fall of the Roman Empire.


Experts say the find could be the largest and most magnificent collection of late antiquity pieces ever found in Germany. It also includes a solid silver bowl set with gold and stones and a set of gold and silver plated statuettes which formed part of a military commander's portable chair.


"The [original] owner lived well," said chief archaeologist Axel von Berg as he presented the find to press on Tuesday evening.


The treasure hunter initially kept his discovery secret and is thought to have sold off part of it on the black market, but it was seized by the authorities when it came to their attention.


"The looter rendered up [the pieces] himself - but only under pressure from investigators," said Ulrich Himmelmann, head of the Speyer branch of the state archaeology authority.


Prosecutors in the west German state are now investigating the case and will attempt to uncover any further missing pieces, said von Berg, without elaborating further on the circumstances or charges against the finder.


Experts say the treasure, some of which appears Eastern European in style, was buried around 1,500 years ago about the time when Germanic Teutons were plundering and pillaging their way through the crumbling Roman empire.


In the chaos, the so-called barbarians were looting valuables from Romans and each other. Either a Roman ruler buried the treasure as they fled the area or it was hidden by a barbarian and never recovered.


Archaeologists say the thousands of amateur treasure hunters armed with metal detectors are a nuisance and pose a serious danger to historical artifacts.


They often damage or destroy pieces when they dig them up and then attempt to sell them off on the black market and destroy the dig site.


In this case, a silver folding chair was "brutally torn out of the earth and destroyed," said von Berg. The find will soon appear on display to the public in a special exhibition, said Rhineland- Palatinate Culture Minister Doris Ahnen.


In Rhineland-Palatinate searching with a metal detector is a minor offence, but taking the find is a criminal matter under property laws. Not telling authorities about the find can lead to a fraud prosecution, while selling it on can end in a charge for dealing in stolen goods.



Decapitated body unearthed in Wanborough

5:00am Friday 21st February 2014 in News


A DECAPITATED body has been pulled out of the ground at a small housing development in Wanborough.


The skeleton, which was buried in a shallow grave, is thought to date back around 1,700 years, at a time when a Roman farming settlement occupied the area.


Archaeologists believe the person would likely have been a criminal, executed and dumped just outside of the town.


Further tests are now being conducted in Reading to determine the exact age of the remains, before the body is handed over to the care of Swindon Museum.


Excavation work around the Wanborough Gardens development has been ongoing for some time, and archaeologists on the site say there have been some fascinating discoveries.


Melanie Pomery-Killinger, chief archaeologist at Wiltshire Council, said the work is now nearing completion.


“There have been some very interesting finds coming out, dating from the Roman period,” she said. “We suspect there was Roman settlement on the site.


“Recently the remains of a skeleton were found in a shallow grave. There is no coffin, only a body in a dug grave.


“It appears quite interesting because it has been decapitated, and the skull was found behind the knee.That is normally done when someone is a criminal or miscreant of some kind.


 “The features we have found on site suggest this was not at the heart of the settlement. Normally people would be brought out of the settlement and buried by the road if they had done something wrong. The settlement proper would have been further up the hill.


“We have known Wanborough is very interesting for some time. We already know about a small Roman town which is currently intersected by the A419, and there was a big Roman presence there throughout the 4th century AD.


“What we have here is a small farming community with some industrial activity. We have also found earlier pottery dating back to the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, so the indication is there was another settlement nearby.


“They were in relatively good condition, and were found around 30 to 50cms below the ground surface layout. While most features have been shallow, there are also deeper features such as ditches which indicates this was an area outside the main settlement.”


A spokesman for Taylor Wimpey, the developers leading the 12 home development, said the body had been handed over to Thames Valley Archaeological Services.


He said: “Further testing will be carried out over the coming weeks in conjunction with Wiltshire Council’s archaeologist to establish the age of the remains, following which a full report will be presented to Swindon Council.”



Skeleton of young man stabbed to death discovered at historic site

STV 21 February 2014 10:39 GMT 


The skeleton of a young man dating from the 12th or 13th centuries, who was stabbed to death has been discovered during an archaeological dig in East Lothian.


The remains of the corpse were found during an excavation at the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick.


Examination of the skeleton revealed the man had been fatally stabbed four times in the back, twice in the left shoulder and twice in the ribs.


The archaeological dig organised by the Seabird Centre and undertaken by Edinburgh-based Addyman Archaeology and latterly supported by Historic Scotland, uncovered structural remains, individual finds and an important new series of radio carbon dates.


Evidence of a community living at the site has been strengthened by individual finds including stone tools, lead objects, ceramic material and bones of butchered seals, fish and seabirds.


It is not possible to ascertain whether the human skeleton may have had other injuries, due to the legs and some of the right side of the body being cut away in later burial.


However the archaeologists have been able to conclude that the figure is that of a man over 20 years of age, slightly better built than average, with wear to the shoulder suggesting possible archery practice.


Archaeologists who uncovered various graves at the historic site, surmised from the size, shape and relative positions of the injuries to the bones of the man that the dagger-like weapon used to stab him had a symmetrical lozenge-shaped section with very sharp edges and was probably at least 70mm long.


Daggers with a lozenge-sectioned blade are a specialist military weapon and carried mainly by military men. This, combined with the accuracy of the stab wounds, implies a degree of professionalism in the killing and arguably a degree of calculation.


Tom Brock OBE, chief executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, said: “Being at the centre of a 900-year-old murder mystery is very exciting for the Scottish Seabird Centre.


"As an independent visitor attraction, conservation and education charity, we are dedicated to inspiring people to enjoy, protect and learn about their local environment, and this dig has allowed us great insight in to how life was lived in the North Berwick area almost 1,000 years ago.


"The site of the Centre is an historic site of national importance and visitors can find out more about this rich history from information displayed within and around the Seabird Centre.”


Rod McCullagh, senior archaeology manager at Historic Scotland, said: “We welcome the publication of the Kirk Ness report, which is the result of a successful partnership between Historic Scotland and the Scottish Seabird Centre.


"Their expansion triggered an archaeological excavation - supported by Historic Scotland - of an important medieval cemetery, which revealed the remarkable remains of buildings dating to 5th to 9th centuries AD.


"These archaeological discoveries and the subsequent analyses mark a significant advance in our understanding of the early history both of North Berwick and of southern Scotland.”


(Addyman Archaelogy)

The important findings of the Kirk Ness project have been documented in a new book, The Medieval Kirk, Cemetery and Hospice at Kirk Ness, North Berwick: the Scottish Seabird Centre Excavations 1999-2006 (published by Oxbow Books), will be launched by archaeologist Tom Addyman at the Scottish Seabird Centre on March 27.



Village excavation turns up a wealth of finds dating back 1,400 years


A team of archaeologists from Pre-Construct Archaeology carried out an excavation within the village of Haddenham in advance of the construction of a residential dwelling. The dig uncovered burials dating to the Early Saxon period (6th century AD). A team of archaeologists from Pre-Construct Archaeology carried out an excavation within the village of Haddenham in advance of the construction of a residential dwelling. The dig uncovered burials dating to the Early Saxon period (6th century AD).

Daniel Mansfield

Thursday, February 20, 2014 8:24 AM


Archaeologists gained a valuable insight into life and death in Saxon England thanks to a dig in Haddenham.


At the start of the month, Pre-Construct Archaeology was invited to excavate a small site in the car park of the Three Kings pub, at the heart of the village, before developers moved on and began work on a new house.


And, despite the dig taking place over a small site, the dig turned up a wealth of finds, including nine burials and plenty of grave goods in what experts believe was a Saxon burial ground.


The bodies discovered are believed to date back to the early Saxon period - around the 6th century AD - and included both men and women, young and old.


Archaeologists believe the people were pagan but, interesting, the burials were aligned east to west, a typically Christian trait.


The burials included a man found lying on a decorative shield, with a knife and a spear also discovered.


A beaded necklace was found around the neck and upper torso of a woman, who was also buried with a belt made with copper and iron fittings.


It is not the first time skeletons have been found at the pub, back in 1990, the remains of three people were found along with a shield and a dagger. The story made front page news in the Ely Standard at the time.


Jonathan House, of Pre-Construct Archaeology, said: “Projects such as these prove how even the smallest developments can yield a wealth of archaeological information and details not only of how people lived but also of their treatment toward the dead more than 1,400 years ago.


“This is especially important during those periods, such as the early Saxon era, which have left little or no historical data.”



Researchers Claim Discovery of America’s Oldest Fort

HERITAGE February 21, 2014 - 11 comments


In an announcement likely to rewrite the book on early colonization of the New World, two researchers today said they have discovered the oldest fortified settlement ever found in North America.


Speaking at an international conference on France at Florida State University, the pair announced that they have located Fort Caroline, a long-sought fort built by the French in 1564.


“This is the oldest fortified settlement in the present United States,” said historian and Florida State University alumnus Fletcher Crowe. “This fort is older than St. Augustine, considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in America. It’s older than the Lost Colony of Virginia by 21 years; older than the 1607 fort of Jamestown by 45 years; and predates the landing of the Pilgrims in Massachusetts in 1620 by 56 years.”

Announcement of the discovery of Fort Caroline was made during “La Floride Française: Florida, France, and the Francophone World,” a conference hosted by FSU’s Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies and its Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution. The conference commemorates the cultural relations between France and Florida since the 16th century.


Researchers have been searching for actual remains of Fort Caroline for more than 150 years but had not found the actual site until now, Crowe said. The fort was long thought to be located east of downtown Jacksonville, Fla., on the south bank of the St. Johns River. The Fort Caroline National Memorial is located just east of Jacksonville’s Dames Point Bridge, which spans the river.


However, Crowe and his co-author, Anita Spring, a professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Florida, say that the legendary fort is actually located on an island at the mouth of the Altamaha River, two miles southeast of the city of Darien, Ga. Darien is located near the Georgia coast between Brunswick and Savannah, approximately 70 miles from the Jacksonville site.


“This really is a momentous finding, and what a great honor it is for it to be announced at a conference organized by the Winthrop-King Institute,” said Martin Munro, a professor in FSU’s Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics and director of the Winthrop-King Institute. “It demonstrates the pre-eminence of the institute and recognizes the work we do in promoting French and Francophone culture in Florida, the United States and internationally.”


Darrin McMahon, the Ben Weider Professor of History and a faculty member with the Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution, observed that Crowe and Spring’s finding — like the conference itself — highlights France’s longstanding presence in Florida and the Southeast.


“From the very beginning, down to the present day, French and Francophone peoples have played an important role in this part of the world,” McMahon said. “Our conference aims to draw attention to that fact.”

To make the discovery, Crowe, who received his Ph.D. in history from Florida State in 1973, flew to Paris and conducted research at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the French equivalent of the U.S. Library of Congress. There he found a number of 16th-century maps that pinpointed the location of Fort Caroline. Some of the maps were in 16th-century French, some in Latin, some in Spanish, and some were even in English.


Francois Dupuigrenet Desroussilles, a professor of Christianity in the FSU Department of Religion and for 20 years the curator of rare books in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, underlines the fraternal attitude of French Protestant settlers in Fort Caroline toward native Americans, a rare occurrence among Western colonists, and the new perspectives opened by the discovery on the relationship between Huguenots and Indian tribes.


Crowe was able to match French maps from the 16th to 18th centuries of what is today the southeastern coast of the United States with coastal charts of the United States published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and with maps published by the U.S. Geological Survey.


One reason scholars claimed that Fort Caroline was located near Jacksonville is because, they believed, the local Indian tribes surrounding the fort spoke the Timucuan language, the Native American language of Northeast Florida.


“We proved that the Native Americans living near the fort spoke a language called Guale (pronounced “WAH-lay”),” Spring said. “The Guale speakers lived near Darien, Ga. They did not live in Northeast Florida, where Jacksonville is.”

The two scholars believe that Fort Caroline lies on Rhetts Island, southeast of Darien.


“The fort appears to be situated in an impoundment used for duck hunting in the fall,” said Crowe, “and thankfully, the site is protected by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.”

“The frustrating and often acrimonious quest to find the fort has become a sort of American quest for the Holy Grail by archaeologists, historians and other scholars,” he noted. “The inability to find the fort has made some wonder if it ever existed.”


In 1565, Spanish soldiers under Pedro Menéndez marched into Fort Caroline and slaughtered some 143 men and women who were living there at the time. After the massacre, Menéndez wrote the king of Spain that he had discovered the French fort at “31 degrees North latitude.” Using GoogleEarth, Crowe found the fort close to where the Spanish general had reported.


“The actual latitude of what we believe is Fort Caroline is well within the margin of error of 16th-century navigational instruments, about 17 miles,” Crowe said.


French colonists at Fort Caroline were astonished by the dazzling amounts of gold and silver worn by the Indians near the fort. These reports were dismissed as fiction by previous researchers, who argued that North Florida has no deposits of either precious metal.


“We studied the trade routes of the Guale Indians and found that they led directly to the gold and silver deposits near Dahlonega, Ga.,” Spring said. In 1828, Dahlonega became the site of America’s first mint, and over the years about $600 million worth of gold, in 2013 dollars, has been recovered there.


The site has not yet been excavated by archaeologists.


For 150 years, scholars have thought that “French Florida” meant Northeast Florida, including Jacksonville, Lake City and Gainesville. The Crowe and Spring study is expected to fundamentally redefine the term.


Crowe noted that “French Florida forms a great oval extending from the Santee River of South Carolina, down to the St. Marys River, which serves today as the border between Georgia and Florida. French Florida extends from Darien on the coast, up to Milledgeville, east of Macon.”


Contributing Source : Florida State University


© Copyright 2014 HeritageDaily - Heritage & Archaeology News



Sheperdswell metal detector Greg Sweetman finds valuable Anglo-Saxon artefacts next to A20 near Maidstone

by Emily Stott



A rare collection of Saxon artefacts has been found by a man from east Kent.


The Anglo-Saxon findings could be part of a grave date back to the sixth century and are said to be worth more than £40,000.


Two Saxon pins, part of a buckle or belt and seven brooches were found on land next to the A20 towards Maidstone.


Greg Sweetman, of Westcourt Lane, Shepherdswell, was the first person to find one of the brooches when metal detecting.


Mr Sweetman, 40, said that he was very lucky to find something so rare.


He said: "It's a day I won't forget. These finds for me are the most significant I have ever found and I'm still shaking at the thought."


Mr Sweetman said that the finds were made at his first club dig with the Medway History Finders.


He usually digs with the Invicta Seekers based in Ashford.


He said: "When you start digging stuff up you never know what's going to come up. I'm lucky that that came up."


On finding a large square-ended Saxon brooch, Mr Sweetman and the group decided to dig further and discovered the hoard of artefacts including hair pins and circular and square brooches. The brooches are mostly silver with red garnet.


He added: "The first find was a broken Saxon pin at about six inches down. Not being too knowledgeable as to what it was, I showed Kevin Reader, the vice-chairman of the club, and he advised me to re-check the hole as it was not a common find."


Pete Clarke, a member of the Medway History Finders, added: "It's a very significant find. Chances are they might be able to find who is in there."


Mr Clarke said that usually, with a Saxon burial of someone of high status, they would be buried with a spear, so the excavators will be looking for signs that will reveal whether or not the site is part of an Anglo-Saxon grave.


The group cut a metre by metre square hole, so the rest of the area will need to be searched.


The hoard has now been passed on to a coroner who will confirm the date of the artefacts and offer them to the British Museum.


Mr Clarke, 53, said that he didn't want the first time the public saw the findings to be when they're polished and cleaned in the British Museum.


He said: "It's far more exciting to see them dug up from the ground."