Archaeologists unearth ancient English treasures

More than 60 Saxon treasures from gold crosses to glass jars have gone on display in London, giving a glimpse into a royal tomb from the seventh century. Archeologists call the king the "Prince of Prittlewell." Northing remains of the king, who was buried in a wood-walled grave. The body is the only thing missing from the four-metre-square chamber.

"To find an intact chamber grave and a moment genuinely frozen in time is a once-in-a-lifetime discovery," said Ian Blair, the senior archaeologist on the dig. About 60 artifacts have been uncovered and catalogued, including 1,400-year-old glass jugs, gold foil crosses and a ceremonial sword. The king's grave was discovered intact beneath the streets of Prittlewell, in the English Channel port of Southend, about 55 kilometres from London.

Southend was of interest to archeologists before the dig, a pre-construction site survey. They say the find is the most significant Saxon discovery since the famed Sutton Hoo burial which was found in eastern England in 1939. Experts estimate the two kings may have known each other, but holes in the history of the Dark Ages makes it difficult to identify whose grave it is.

The number and quality of artifacts suggests it was a prince or local king.

It will take years of laboratory analysis to identify the grave and the origin of the artifacts. Preliminary studies suggest the treasures came from the eastern Mediterranean, northern Italy and Hungary. The display continues at the Museum of London until Feb. 17, reports &to=' target=_blank>CBC News

The grave was discovered completely intact after excavation began last October. The site was uncovered during an archaeological investigation by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council in cooperation with a road improvement plan. The Southend area was known to be of archaeological interest before the dig. "We had no idea we would find anything like this. We didn't expect anything so unique," said Lyn Blackmore, a finds specialist for the Museum of London. It is the most significant Saxon discovery since 1939 when a burial chamber was recovered in an 84-foot-long ship at the Sutton Hoo site in eastern England, informs &to=' target=_blank>

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