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Saxon chief sees light of day

A rare grave dug for a warrior 1500 years ago has been unearthed on an American air base in Suffolk.
As some of the world's most sophisticated fighter jets screamed overhead archaeologists working at RAF Lakenheath discovered the last resting place of a soldier from a different age.
But the Anglo Saxon warrior chief was just as important in his day as the multi-million pound planes. In fact, this man was so significant he was buried with his horse.

Major find: Project leader Jo Caruth described the discovery of the skeletons at Lakenheath as a unique find. She is pictured left with archaeologist Jonathan Van Jennians. Pictures: Andy Abbott.

The animal was slaughtered after the death of the warrior and buried alongside him. The warrior's sword, shield and spear were also buried with him.
Experts also discovered an iron bucket whis is thought to have contained food for the trusty steed.
They say the find is one of the greatest archaeological discoveries made in the UK this year and parallels are already being drawn with a similar grave found at Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge.
John Newman, a field officer with the Suffolk County Council's archaeology section, said the find was of national importance because it was so rare to find the horse and warrior buried in the same grave.
Mr. Newman said the style of the warrior's grave, in a mound surrounded by a ditch, and the presence of the horse meant he was a major wealthy figure in the Anglo Saxon community of 550 AD, living on what is now RAF Lakenheath.
He said: "He was a warrior chief important enough to go into the afterlife with his weapons and his horse. The horse was probably poleaxed after his death."
He said the skeleton of both the horse and warrior were well preserved thanks to bands of chalk in the land which has neutralized harmful acids from the surrounding sandy soil.
Archaeologist Anglela Evans, who uncovered the Sutton Hoo find, said the Lakenheath discovery, already viewed by British Museum officials, was "very special".

Project Leader Jo Caruth. Photo by Andy Abbott.

She said that to find a Saxon warrior and his horse buried in the same grave is extremely rare in Britain, and sheds new light on Anglo Saxon horsemanship.
She said: "People have always thought that the Saxons were actually pretty inept horse people. I would like to think that it actually tells us that the Saxons were better horsemen than we imagined."
County council archaeologists, led by Jo Caruth, began work on the site in July ahead of construction work due to start next month. More than 140 Saxon graves from the same period have already been found, and archaeologists expect to uncover almost 200.
It is hoped the warrior and horse will be put on public display in the county.

Article taken from Mercury News October 10, 1997. All material is copyrighted by them and used herein without permission
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Related Links:
Caer Arundel
Eriswell Cemetary Excavation - Suffolk County Council
Angelcynn - Anglo-Saxon Horse Warrior Burial