24 July 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

In Lowbury Hill Mystery of Anglo-Saxons buried 1,400 years ago may soon be solved

The mystery surrounding the remains of two Anglo-Saxons buried 1,400 years ago in south Oxfordshire, identified as a man and a woman, may finally be solved thanks to modern scientific techniques.

The pair, who were found at Lowbury Hill, Oxfordshire, in 1913 and 1914, is being studied further by a team from the Universities of Reading, Cranfield, and Oxfordshire Museum Service.

The remains of the man are currently on display at the Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock, but the woman’s bones have been in storage up until now.

Previous research indicates that the man was a seventh-century warrior who lived in Cornwall or western Ireland before being buried on Lowbury Hill. His coffin contained a sword, shield, enamelled spearhead, knife, shears, a bronze hanging bowl, and a bone comb.

His discovery within an Early Medieval barrow and the items with which he was buried indicate he was a high-status individual from the Anglo-Saxon period, with some experts suggesting he may have been a soldier.

The Lowbury Man's grave contained elaborate items, including a bronze hanging bowl. Photo: Oxfordshire Museum Service
The Lowbury Man’s grave contained elaborate items, including a bronze hanging bowl. Photo: Oxfordshire Museum Service

He was discovered near a woman, who was buried in line with the wall of a Roman-era enclosure on the hilltop. From her skeleton, she is believed to have been about 40 years old. Her remains have been radiocarbon dated to about 550 to 650 AD.

“While the woman was buried without any significant items, her remains may still reveal her story and tell us something new about the past,” said PhD candidate Summer Courts, who is conducting the investigations.

Late last year, both sets of remains were taken for detailed laboratory analysis. Summer Courts, who studied the remains as part of her PhD research at the University of Reading, and Professor Amy Smith, her supervisor and Curator of the University’s Ure Museum, are hoping the modern analysis will confirm the pair’s sex, their ancestry and relations, their health, and where and how they lived.

PhD candidate Summer, said: “This is a fascinating site with a thrilling history. We hope that with the latest archaeological techniques, and with the help of the local community, we can find out more about the lives of these two people and the Lowbury Hill site.

 ‘Sugar loaf’ Shield Boss found within the Lowbury Hill burial. Photo: Oxfordshire Museum Service
‘Sugar loaf’ Shield Boss found within the Lowbury Hill burial. Photo: Oxfordshire Museum Service

“We would like to know more about how the site was used by past communities, who the two individuals buried on the hill were, and why their communities felt it was appropriate to bury them there.”

Bone analysis took place at the Cranfield Forensic Institute with project co-supervisor Dr. Sophie Beckett and samples will be sent to Germany for examination in collaboration with Dr. Stephan Schiffels at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Results from the study are expected later in 2023. The bones of the man returned to Oxfordshire Museum in February, overseen by co-supervisor Angie Bolton, Archaeology Manager at Oxfordshire Museum Service, ready to be put back on display to the public.

More information on the research can be found at the project website: research.reading.ac.uk/mymerian

Cover Photo: Scientists examine what was found in the burial. University of Reading

Related Articles

In Egypt, archaeologists have discovered a 4,500-year-old Sun temple.

16 November 2021

16 November 2021

Archaeologists discovered an ancient Sun temple in the Egyptian desert that dates back 4,500 years. The remains were discovered under...

Archeologists discover 2000-year-old Roman coins on the deserted Swedish island of Gotska Sandön

14 April 2023

14 April 2023

Archaeologists found 2,000-year-old Roman coins on the Swedish deserted island of Gotska Sandön. Previously, ancient Roman coins were discovered on...

An 800-meter-long colonnaded street from the Roman period discovered in Türkiye’s famous holiday resort Antalya

18 April 2024

18 April 2024

During the archaeological excavations in Hıdırlık Tower, one of the historical symbols of Antalya, the famous holiday resort in the...

A center on the Anatolian Mesopotamian trade route; Tavsanli Mound

24 October 2021

24 October 2021

Excavations at Tavşanlı mound, which is known to be the first settlement in Western Anatolia during the Bronze Age, continue....

Stonehenge could be a solar calendar, according to a new study

2 March 2022

2 March 2022

A new study posits that the Stonehenge circles served as a calendar that tracks the solar year of 365.25 days,...

6,000-year-old island settlement found off the Croatian coast

24 June 2021

24 June 2021

Archaeologist Mate Parica, a professor at the University of Zadar, noticed something unusual while examining satellite images of Croatia‘s coastline....

Remains of 240 people found beneath Ocky White department store in Wales

13 October 2022

13 October 2022

Archaeologists found skeletal remains of over more than 240 people, from beneath a former department store in Pembrokeshire in Wales,...

Paleonursery offers a detailed glimpse at life 518 million years ago

6 July 2021

6 July 2021

Fossilized specimens of thousands of undersea animals buried under a sedimentary avalanche 518 million years ago have been found near...

The Jinn of Girnavaz Mound

6 February 2021

6 February 2021

Girnavaz mound is in the north of Nusaybin district of Mardin province and Nusaybin 4 km is away. It is...

Ancient terracotta dancers, and musicians unearthed in China

13 November 2022

13 November 2022

Chinese archaeologists recently discovered a large group of terracotta figurines from a tomb in a group dating to the Northern...

Origin of Ivory Rings Found in Elite Anglo-Saxon Burials

2 July 2023

2 July 2023

An elite class of ancient Anglo-Saxon women were buried with hundreds of ivory rings, and the origin of these ivory...

Archaeologists unearth 6,000-year-old two monumental mounds containing wooden grave chambers in Germany

16 March 2024

16 March 2024

Archaeologists from the State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt (LDA) have uncovered a significant Neolithic burial landscape on...

A previously unknown subterranean tract of an Augustan-era aqueduct has been rediscovered in Naples

4 February 2023

4 February 2023

A previously unknown subterranean tract nearly half a mile long of an Augustan-era aqueduct has been rediscovered in Naples, southern...

5000-year-old fingerprint found in Orkney pottery

23 April 2021

23 April 2021

Fingerprints were found on a pottery dating back 5,000 years in the Orkney archipelago, located in the northern region of...

A cave painting found in Egyptian Sahara depicts a nativity scene 3,000 years before Jesus’ Birth

21 December 2023

21 December 2023

5,000-year-old rock art depicting the oldest nativity scene ever found has been found in Egypt’s Sahara Desert: A newborn between...