|Trumpington Local History Group
Discovery of Anglo-Saxon Bed
Burial and Cross
|Copyright © Trumpington Local History Group, 2014. Updated 9 July 2014.
|'Extraordinary' archaeological finds from Trumpington
16 March 2012, updated 7 December 2013
|The University of Cambridge has announced details of the archaeological finds from
Trumpington Meadows which we were told about on a Local History Group site visit in May
2011. There is a press release about the finds (including a link to a video on YouTube of the
excavation and a discussion of its significance and another link to a series of photographs on
In the video, Alison Dickens and Dr Sam Lucy talk about the very rare Saxon bed burial found
within the area of the original Anglo-Saxon settlement, just to the south of the later church. This
alone is a find of national significance, but more remarkably the burial included a very rare solid
gold pectoral cross inlaid with garnets. There are only 5 similar examples of this cross, 1 of
which was found in St Cuthbert's coffin now in Durham Cathedral and may have been his
personal cross. This is an explicitly Christian find from the later 7th century at a time when the
religion was being newly introduced. The burial is of a girl, possibly aristocratic. The grave is
part of a contemporary settlement and may be linked to a monastic foundation, although there
is no written evidence of this. Dr Sam Lucy is quoted as saying "To be buried in this elaborate
way with such a valuable artefact tells us that this girl was undoubtedly high status, probably
nobility or even royalty".
The press release says "There may even be a possible link to the founding of the first
monastery in Ely at around the same time. St Æthelthryth (or Etheldreda), daughter of King
Anna of East Anglia, established the female-headed house at Ely in 673 AD. A cemetery found
in Ely by the CAU in 2006 also contained a later 7th-century burial of a 10-12 year-old with a
delicate gold cross pendant, who was thought to have been associated with the monastery. The
parallels between this site and Trumpington are intriguing, and suggest a more interesting origin
for the village than has previously been thought."
The excavation was by the Cambridge Archaeological Unit.
See the report on the Local History Group site visit in May 2011.
Cambridge News, 16 March 2012
BBC Cambridgeshire, 16 March 2012
The Guardian, 16 March 2012
|The four Anglo-Saxon burial pits,
seen during a site visit. Photo:
Andrew Roberts, 24 May 2011.
|News of an
Anglo-Saxon bed burial
and gold and garnet
cross (the 'Trumpington
during the Cambridge
Alison Dickens gave a
talk to the Group about
and the Trumpington
Cross on 11 April 2013.
|The Trumpington Cross, after cleaning.
© Cambridge Archaeological Unit.