Twenty one skeletons of Anglo Saxon people have been found – just one foot under the ground – during an archaeological dig in Exning.
The skeletons were found on land at Burwell Road in Exning, alongside a spear, a glass bowl, gold plated brooches, a cloak pin, and a dagger, some of which is thought to have come from as early as 7AD.
The dig was carried out by Archaeological Solutions on behalf of Persimmon Homes, who have outline permission to build 120 homes on the site.
Andrew Peachey, post excavation manager for Archaeological Solutions, said: “The focus of the dig was of 20 Saxon graves. In those, we found 21 remains with one being a double burial.
“It was quite a surprise. We had done a series of trial trench excavations and had no idea they were there.
“We were very lucky they had survived because they were less than a foot down and the land had been ploughed very recently.”
Exning has strong links to King Anna, who converted to Christianity in the early 7th century, and is reportedly the birthplace of Queen Etheldreda, his daughter, who had Ely named after her.
The team at Archaeological Solutions, who have now recovered the skeletons and the items, will be working to discovered more information about the ancient villagers.
Mr Peachey added: “Thanks to the local geology of the land, the preservation of the bones are brilliant.
“We have recovered them and will be doing pathology work to see if they were male or female and how old they were.”
The findings of the dig, which was undertaken as a condition of being granted planning permission will not halt the building of the houses, the organisation said, adding that Persimmon Homes had been “incredibly considerate” while the excavation was underway.
The findings maybe able to go on display in Exning, but will first be subject to a “lengthy process of preservation”.
However excavators will be presenting details of their findings to local residents of Exning in the new year.
Cambridge News. 2015. “Anglo Saxon graves found during excavation of Burwell Road, Exning”. Cambridge News. Posted: November 17, 2014. Available online: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/pictures/Anglo-Saxon-graves-excavation-Burwell-Road-Exning/pictures-24545264-detail/pictures.html