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Archaeologists discover 1500-year-old burial of Bavarian 'princess'

The uncovering of an early Bavarian 'row' grave field from Würding (municipality of Bad Füssing) dating back to the 6th century is providing more and more important insights into the settlement history of the Lower Inntal Valley. Now another find has opened up a whole new perspective: The archaeologists discovered the grave of a young woman (18-25 years old), attributed by district archaeologist Alois Spieleder to the local nobility of the time, and whom he describes a "princess". "The find is one of the most spectacular of the last decades", says Spieleder.

Archaeologists discover 1500-year-old burial of Bavarian 'princess'
The rich necklace of the young woman, who was probably buried in the 6th century, can be seen
in detail. The jewellery gives clear information about a prominent position within
the local nobility [Credit: Landratsamt Passau]

The occupation of the burial ground begins very early, around AD 500. This dating could be supported above all by a smoothed buckled wall bowl of the Altenerding-Aubing type. The shape and design of this special bowl imitates late antique, i.e. Roman models, but it is decorated in a Germanic style. In addition, a bird fibula (i.e. a garment pin) was found, which supports this dating.

The grave of a young woman whose garment accessories can clearly be assigned to a higher social status is the most recent find. In addition to a rich necklace of glass beads, a gold necklace was also found around the neck. Next to it, a rock crystal ball was found in the vicinity of a belt pendant. Such spheres are generally interpreted as part of the costume of unmarried young women. Almandine disc fibulae were also found. The furnishings of this burial can therefore only lead to the conclusion that this was an extraordinarily highly placed member of the local nobility.

Archaeologists discover 1500-year-old burial of Bavarian 'princess'
District Administrator Raimund Kneidinger (left) and district archaeologist Alois Spieleder at the
site of the skeleton, immediately after it was uncovered [Credit: Landratsamt Passau]

According to Spieleder, the graves of a well-equipped warrior and other high-ranking women were also found near the young woman.

The district of Passau is one of the few districts in the State of Bavaria with its own district archaeology department. Finds like this one, explains district administrator Raimund Kneidinger, are proof of how important it is to "document our own settlement history and to preserve the evidence. The district sees itself committed to this task also in the future." He thanked the municipality of Bad Füssing, on whose newly developed Würding building site the archaeologists had made a find. Kneidinger: "The municipality cooperated with the archaeologists and monument conservationists and immediately recognised the value of the finds. That is exemplary."

Source: Landratsamt Passau [Trsl. TANN; November 30, 2021]

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