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Ely exhibition to feature ‘treasures of a Saxon cemetery’

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‘Burial of a Princess? Treasures of a Saxon Cemetery in Ely’ exhibition opens in Ely on Saturday 21 January.

Fourteen centuries ago, in the south west corner of Ely, a Princess was buried.

It wasn’t until, on a cold winter’s day in 2006, the grave was discovered, filled with beautiful treasures.

Archaeologists discovered an Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemetery, located between the A10 bypass and Witchford Road, to the south-west of Ely city centre.

Burial site – Copyright Cambridge Archaeological Unit

The grave of a young woman, an Anglo Saxon Princess, adorned with precious metals and gemstones was found.

Within the cemetery, there were two graves containing many high-status items, such as jewellery and other beautiful, treasured possessions.

Copyright Cambridge Archaeological Unit

A further 15 graves were excavated and those contained occasional simple items such as a knife or bead.

This exciting discovery was made by the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, who had been brought in by Taylor Woodrow Developments Ltd to excavate the site in Ely, in advance of a housing development.

Following the excavation, the finds were cleaned, recorded, and conserved and archaeologists published a report on the site, exploring its significance.

Saxon Exhibition Poster

Later this spring, Ely Museum will host a talk by Dr Sam Lucy who played a key part in the publication of these reports.

The site has been dated to the late seventh century, which brings it intriguingly close to 673AD, the date when Etheldreda founded the religious house in Ely, that later became Ely Cathedral.

Elie Hughes, Curator at Ely Museum said: “Ely Museum is excited to now be able to display the grave goods from the two female burials for the first time.

Copyright Cambridge Archaeological Unit

The exhibition will showcase the stunning objects and explore what they can tell us about who these people were and how they may have related to Etheldreda.”

The exhibition runs from 21 January – 18 June 2023 and admission is included with a museum ticket or annual pass.

Alongside the exhibition, there will be a series of talks and events for the whole family to enjoy.

About Ely Museum

Following a £2.2m redevelopment, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Ely Museum reopened to the public in May 2021.

After being closed for almost two years, which included an extension to the building and brand-new galleries and interactive exhibitions throughout, Ely Museum is welcoming visitors again.

Website

www.elymuseum.org.uk

 

PHOTOGRAPH CREDITS

– Poster Image – Copyright Ely Museum
– Burial site image – Copyright Cambridge Archaeological Unit

– Garnet pendant – Copyright Cambridge Archaeological Unit

– Glass palm cups – Copyright Cambridge Archaeological Unit

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