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Warrior king uncovered at east Yorkshire iron age settlement

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Jessie Phallon
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« on: April 02, 2016, 10:16:23 pm »




Work being undertaken at the burial site of a high-ranking warrior. Photograph: MAP/PA

Archaeologist Paula Ware said the warrior, who was aged between 17 and 23, had been put in a box in the grave in a crouched position.

Mourners had placed four spears along his spine and another in his groin. “Our interpretation of that, we are thinking in terms of it releasing his spirit,” she said, adding that his sword had probably been broken “in antiquity” as part of the ritual.

“He was possibly a warrior – someone who had achieved status within society. In the iron age we can definitely see this ritual of death was so important. It wasn’t just a simple thing.”

The remains of another warrior were also found. He had been placed on his shield in what she said was a “unique” find. “This is the first time that we have ever discovered a shield burial in Britain … it has never happened before.”

Some of the skeletons were found in wicker baskets, others had been placed in organic beds. However, the most elaborate burials were of three warriors: they had been placed in small, round graves rather than the usual square ones.

Ware said: “There is definitely a pattern emerging. The small, round barrows contained people who seemed to be significant members of the society. These were iron-age warriors, they had been buried with their weapons and it is clear that they were significant because they had been given different burial rights.”
Map

Archaeologists had been excavating the site for around a year expecting to find one or two graves – but have discovered 75.

“We couldn’t believe it,” said Ware. “One of my colleagues had been at the site every day for the past year and in October we realised that we were dealing with something that was incredibly significant.”

The unearthing of the burial ground will lead to the largest study of the iron-age population in the last 35 years. The analysis will concentrate on whether the population is indigenous or whether they were migrants from the continent.

Archaeologists hope to reveal how those buried at the site died, what stresses their bodies had been placed under during their lifespan and whether or not they were related to each other. “We are going to be studying the DNA,” Ware added. “One of the theories that we are looking into is [that] these were migrants from the continent. We believe some of them could have come over from northern France or even Germany.
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