Archaeologists have made an exciting discovery in a river valley in Norfolk, England. They have unearthed a previously unknown Anglo-Saxon cemetery dating from the 7th-9th century AD. Moreover, they also found remarkably preserved tree-trunk coffins and rare ‘plank-lined’ graves.
A Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) press release says that archaeologists found 81 dug-out coffins and six plank-lined graves in the waterlogged river valley when they were called in to excavate at Great Ryburgh in Norfolk. The excavations were funded by Historic England and took place as works began on a conservation/fishing lake and flood defense system.
This is a rare discovery as previous Anglo-Saxon wood coffins have only been identified by stains on the ground from the decayed wood. As James Fairclough, archaeologist from MOLA, said in the press release: “The combination of acidic sand and alkaline water created the perfect conditions for the skeletons and wooden graves to survive, revealing remarkable details of Christian Anglo-Saxon burial practices.”
A reconstruction of tree-trunk coffin with lid from an early Anglo-Saxon grave at Mucking Cemetery II, Essex. Credit: Historic England and Judith Dobie
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