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11 July 2011
Ancient burials may shed light on prehistoric Norfolk

A female skeleton unearthed last summer in the chalk downs at Sedgeford, Norfolk (England), has been dated to 4,500 years old. The woman, aged approximately 35-45 years old, was found in a curled up position, with amber beads. A primitive digging tool fashioned from the shoulder-blade of a cow was discovered nearby.
     The area has been the subject of a dig for the last fifteen summers, as the community seek to discover more about a Saxon graveyard situated nearby. SHARP - the Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project, which runs the dig has uncovered remains from more then 300 Saxon burials in the Boneyard Field. Another skeleton was previously uncovered in a burial pit in 2009. The remains were found to be that of a tall young man.
     Project director, Gary Rossin has said that this summer, the aim is to look at a D-shaped ditched enclosure on the side of a chalk down overlooking nearby modern day Sedgeford. "We've been trying to understand the Anglo-Saxon settlement side of things but over the last two years we've had these curve balls thrown at us - burials where we didn't expect to find burials." said Gary Rossin. "We had radio carbon dating done on the one we found in 2009, which said 2450 - 2200 BCE. That's 4,500 years old." He went on, "We haven't dated the second one but there's no reason to doubt it's the same period."
     Martin Hatton, curator of human remains at the site has said, "It was a total surprise to us," he said. "You don't bury people anywhere other than near where they live, so what we can say is that people were farming the land here 4,000 years ago." SHARP are hoping to obtain a grant to cover the £1,500 needed to carry out carbon dating and isotopic tests in order to date the skeleton and to reveal the woman's origins.

Edited from EDP24 (10 July 2011)

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