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Significant Anglo-Saxon cemetery and settlement found in Overstone, Northamptonshire


A team from the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) have excavated the largest Anglo-Saxon cemetery in Northamptonshire at Overstone Gate. Excavations were conducted over the course of 12 months, in preparation for the construction of a housing development.


Significant Anglo-Saxon cemetery and settlement found in Overstone, Northamptonshire
Aerial view of the excavation at Overstone [Credit: MOLA]



154 Anglo-Saxon burials were found, containing beautiful grave goods totalling nearly 3000 objects. These included jewellery (roughly 150 brooches, 15 rings, 2000 beads, 75 wrist clasps and 15 chatelaines), weapons (roughly 25 spears, 40 knives and 15 shield bosses), and everyday objects such as cosmetic kits and bone combs. Pieces of textile, which rarely survive in the archaeological record, were found preserved next to metal objects which had caused them to mineralise. All of the finds have now been removed from site for analysis by our specialists.


Significant Anglo-Saxon cemetery and settlement found in Overstone, Northamptonshire
Collection of beads and brooches from Burial 1 [Credit: MOLA]



A previously unknown Anglo-Saxon settlement of 22 structures was also identified, with 20 more Anglo-Saxon buildings found scattered around the site. Prehistoric evidence included three Bronze Age round barrows, 46 prehistoric burials, and four Bronze Age buildings.


Significant Anglo-Saxon cemetery and settlement found in Overstone, Northamptonshire
Saxon decorated brooch [Credit: MOLA]



Simon Markus, Project Manager at MOLA, said: “The Overstone Leys site contains by far the biggest Anglo-Saxon cemetery ever found in Northamptonshire. It is rare to find both an Anglo-Saxon settlement and a cemetery in a single excavation. The excavations will help us understand the way people lived in both the Anglo-Saxon period, around 1,500 years ago as well as the Bronze Age, nearly 4,000 years ago. The human remains will tell us about diet, health and even the origins of the people themselves whilst their buildings can teach us what their day-to-day lives were like and how they utilised the local landscape in these two different periods.”


Source: Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) [January 14, 2021]



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