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1600-year-old burial of woman found in eastern Denmark


This summer, the archaeologists from the Kroppedal Museum found an approximately 1600-year-old grave very close to Kong Svend's Høj in Smørum in Egedal Municipality in Denmark's Hovedstaden Region. The grave has now been completely excavated.


1600-year-old burial of woman found in eastern Denmark
The woman's grave excavated by the Kroppedal Museum in Kildedal Syd
in Egedal Municipality [Credit: Kroppedal Museum]



“The grave dates from the last part of the Roman Iron Age, the last part of the 300s. In the grave we found a well-preserved female skeleton. We do not know who she was. But she died quite young, "says museum director Mads Thernøe. 


1600-year-old burial of woman found in eastern Denmark
The glass beads that originally sat in a chain [Credit: Kroppedal Museum]

"The bereaved laid her in the grave, dressed and with her best jewellery. She was laid on her side, with her upper body slightly turned, so it was easier to place the jewellery neatly on her chest. She was buried on a marked hillside near her home and with her face turned towards the river valley below the hill. It is is clear that she belonged to the elite of society when she was laid to rest more than 1600 years ago. With her to the realm of the dead, she got jewellery, pearls and pottery,” says Mads Thernøe.


1600-year-old burial of woman found in eastern Denmark
The comb found in the grave [Credit: Kroppedal Museum]



1600-year-old burial of woman found in eastern Denmark
The comb after cleaning and restoration [Credit: Kroppedal Museum]

"The grave goods consisted of, among other things, five fibulae, several pearl necklaces, a bronze chain, a comb, two earthenware vessels and a food offering - presumably cooked meat. The woman was between 30 and 35 years old when she died, which was a mature age for the time, and she enjoyed a mid-level status in the community. The things found with her testify to this."


1600-year-old burial of woman found in eastern Denmark
Bronze fibula which held the woman's clothes together and a witness to her status in society
[Credit: Kroppedal Museum]

1600-year-old burial of woman found in eastern Denmark
The Bronze fibula after cleaning and restoration
[Credit: Kroppedal Museum]


Analysis of the jewellery found with the woman suggests that she came to the area and married a local man. This is because women among the elite in society were often married off to families of equal status, while the men remained on the family farm. The further up the hierarchy one was, the further away the bride came from. In this case, the woman's own family may have come from as far as 50 kilometres away.

1600-year-old burial of woman found in eastern Denmark
One of the two ceramic vases found in the grave [Credit: Kroppedal Museum]

On Friday 10 December, the grave goods and the woman's skull will be on display at the Kroppedal Museum.


Source: Kroppedal Museum [Trsl. TANN; December 01, 2021]



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