Crossing into the Afterlife

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News of one of the country’s earliest Christian burials, just south of Cambridge, has been announced on the University of Cambridge website here. An unusual late 7th Century bed burial of a young woman was uncovered during the excavation of a Saxon settlement at Trumpington Meadows by Cambridge Archaeological Unit (CAU). Amongst other grave goods considered typically pagan for the time, the archaeologists were astonished to also discover a solid gold pectoral cross inlaid with garnets, as shown above.

This artefact has been the subject of further research by Dr Sam Lucy, alongside CAU Senior Manager Alison Dickens, and it is thought that this is a high status burial indicating the early adoption of Christianity by an aristocratic elite and perhaps the benefaction of one of the first monastic sites in East Anglia. Further investigation of the remains may reveal much more about the young woman’s life and plans are to analyse the stable isotopes and DNA of the human remains.

One thought on “Crossing into the Afterlife

  1. Jackie Maynard March 27, 2012 / 12:08 am

    I think it is a great discovery, and such a beautiful jewel, and it will be most interesting to know its place in history after all the analysis has taken place. More recently I have been wondering though what happens to the person’s skeleton, grave and possessions afterwards. Is there a fitting burial to follow? Is the person reunited with their treasure even if on public display for prosperity? If not, Have we a right to ‘take possession’ of these artefacts, and often to remove them away from their original home? As time goes on more and more graves and remains will be found, will they just end up in the boxes and drawers of a museum storage facility? I havn’t read any articles or books on this subject, so I am not aware of current thinking, but I like to think there is some small ceremony to re-dedicate the burial in a Christian way if it was thought to be Christian in the first place – likewise for other belief systems.

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