|23 May 2003
Bronze Age burials unearthed near Stonehenge
The remains of four adults and two children were found by Archaeologists at a site in Amesbury, Wiltshire (England). It is about half-a-mile from that of the Amesbury Archer, the Bronze Age man who was buried with the earliest gold found in Britain. He was dubbed by the media as "King of Stonehenge" because archaeologists said he might have been involved in building the monument; tests showed he was born in the Alps region in central Europe.
Dr Andrew Fitzpatrick, of Wessex Archaeology, said: "This new find is really unusual. It is exceptionally rare to find the remains of so many people in one grave like this in southern England. The grave is fascinating because we are seeing the moment when Britain was moving from the Stone Age into the Bronze Age."
Radiocarbon tests will be done to determine more precise dates for the burials, but the group is believed to have lived around 2,300 BCE, during the building of Stonehenge at Amesbury, 75 miles southwest of London. Wessex Archaeology said it is possible the bones are those of people from different generations, as the grave seems to have been reopened to allow further burials to be made. The bones of the earlier burials were mixed up but those of the later burials, a man and a child, were undisturbed.
The grave, which is about three miles from Stonehenge, contained four pots in the Beaker style that is typical of the period, some flint tools, one flint arrowhead and a bone toggle for fastening clothing. It had narrowly missed being damaged by trench digging for electric cables and a water pipe.
The new discovery was found almost exactly a year after the Amesbury Archer was found during excavation for a housing scheme at Boscombe Down, Amesbury, three miles from Stonehenge. His grave was the richest found in Britain from its time, containing about 100 items, more than ten times as many objects as any other burial site from this time, and included hair tresses that are the earliest gold in the country.
Sources: Ananova, BBC News, The Scotsman (21 May 2003), The Olympian, Western Daily Press (22 May 2003)
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