7th Century Treasure Found In UK

Harpole Treasure

Archaeologists in London have uncovered a remarkable necklace dating back 1,300 years. This precious find, discovered during the construction of a housing development in Northampton in April, is shedding new light on life in 7th century England, a time when the forces of Christianity and paganism vied for people’s allegiance.

The necklace, a stunning piece of jewelry adorned with gold and gemstones, was found at the burial site of a woman of considerable influence. She may have been an Anglo-Saxon aristocrat or an early Christian religious leader in Britain. Lyn Blackmore, a senior finds specialist at the Museum of London Archaeology, described these items as “a clear display of affluence and Christian faith.” The woman’s religious devotion is evident, but her exact role remains a mystery—was she a princess, a nun, or possibly an abbess? Blackmore and her team are still uncertain.

The discovery of this necklace was a stroke of luck on one of the final days of a 10-week excavation. Site supervisor Levente-Bence Balázs spotted a glimmer in the earth, which turned out to be a rectangular gold pendant featuring a cross motif and garnet inlays. This pendant served as the centerpiece of the necklace, which also included pendants crafted from gold Roman coins and ovals of semi-precious stones.

“These artifacts have remained hidden for over 1,300 years,” Balázs remarked, “To be the first person to lay eyes on them—it’s truly indescribable.” Balázs, fueled by a passion for archaeology’s tangible and visible nature, expressed his joy in sharing this remarkable discovery with the world.

The Kingdom of Mercia, where the treasure was unearthed, underwent a Christian conversion in the 7th century. With the spread of Christianity throughout England, the practice of burying individuals with their luxurious belongings gradually faded away.

The woman in the grave was adorned with a large, intricately designed silver cross featuring well-preserved depictions of human heads with blue glass eyes, possibly representing Christ’s apostles.

Additionally, clay pots originating from France or Belgium were discovered at the site, containing traces of an unidentified liquid.

Dubbed the “Harpole discoveries” after the village in which they were found, approximately 96 kilometers northwest of London, this find promises to enhance our understanding of the period that bridged the departure of Roman occupiers from Britain in the 5th century to the arrival of Viking raiders nearly four centuries later. Experts believe that this discovery is one of the most significant Saxon findings since the 7th-century ship burial at Sutton Hoo, located about 160 kilometers to the east.

After the completion of archaeological work, the plan is to exhibit these extraordinary items at a local museum.

Credits: MOLA https://www.rpsgroup.com/company/news…

Source(WORLD, 2022)

Sources

  • 7th century necklace unearthed at UK building site. (2022, December 7). Euronews; Euronews.com. https://www.euronews.com/2022/12/07/dig-at-uk-housing-site-yields-major-7th-century-treasure

  • WORLD, W. (2022). “Once-in-a-lifetime” 1,300-year-old necklace found in village land near Northampton [YouTube Video]. In YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TWV3PjlBU8

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