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GRAVES FROM SAXON
02 December 2004
graveyard discovered on a hill overlooking
Marlborough on Sunday looks set to confirm the
long-held belief that the town had Saxon origins.
The five graves containing the remains of what
are believed to be Saxon warriors complete with
shields was made by metal detector enthusiasts.
Realising the enormity of their discovery, the
enthusiasts halted their exploration and notified
police that they had found a burial site.
History and guide books have claimed for years
that Marlborough dated from the early Saxon
period. Although it is frequently stated that The
Green was the centre of the Saxon community
around which Marlborough developed, no proof has
ever been found.
Sunday's discovery is undeniable proof there was
a Saxon settlement where Marlborough now stands,
said historian Brian Edwards this week.
The precise location of the find on farmland to
the south of the town is being kept secret to
prevent it being looted. The graves, which could
date back 1,500 years, have been covered over
pending a future archaeological investigation.
Enthusiasts Gary Lumsden and Sean Raynsford had
been taking part in an authorised rally at the
site when the metal bosses from the centre of the
Saxon shields set off signals in their metal
Mr Lumsden, who lives near Marlow and who has
been a metal detector enthusiast for 20 years,
said he had had many finds before but not of this
significance. "As soon as I dug down I
realised what it was and how important it
was," he said.
"Somebody else lifted the boss and
underneath they found a bone and they stopped at
Rally organiser Mick Turrell, who runs a
Newbury-based metal detector business called
Leisure Promotions, said: "We have searched
this field once before but never found anything
of great interest."
Mr Turrell said that as soon as the enthusiasts
realised the importance of the find and that it
was probably a burial ground, they halted digging
while police were informed.
The metal detectorists have an agreement with the
landowner that anything found of value is shared
The estate owner said he was as amazed as anyone
that the Saxon burial place had been found on his
He said: "There was no indication that
anything like this was there. I am as excited as
the people who found them."
The site owner said security had been installed
to prevent any unauthorised digging.
Dr Paul Robinson, curator of the Wiltshire
Heritage Museum in Devizes, said all Saxon
settlements would have had similar burial grounds
at their parish boundaries. "The correct
position for early Saxon cemeteries is on the
edge of the parish," said Dr Robinson.
"This is exactly the place where you would
expect to find one."
The site is just outside the present Marlborough
town boundary but over the centuries parish
borders have changed.
County archaeologist Roy Canham said it was an
interesting discovery but its full importance
would not be known until funding could be found
for a full-scale dig.
[Source: Gazette & Herald, 2 December 2004]