‘Extraordinary’ archaeological finds from Trumpington
March 2012, updated May 201 9
Latest information, February 2018 and May 2019
The Anglo-Saxon gold and garnet ‘Trumpington Cross’ found in 2011 during the Trumpington Meadows excavation has been donated to the Museum of Archaeology and Ant hropology in Downing Street. The cross and other items from the bed burial we re on temporary display i n 2018-19 (see below) but are now in storage while plans are developed for a permanent display .
See University of Cambridge , statement, 1 February 2018
Original announcement, 2012
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 Flickr).
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.
The four Anglo-Saxon burial pits, seen during a site visit. Photo: Andrew Roberts, 24 May 2011.
An Anglo-Saxon bed burial and gold and garnet cross (the ‘Trumpington Cross’), was discovered in 2011 during the Cambridge Archaeological Unit excavation at Trumpington Meadows.
The Trumpington Cross.
© Cambridge Archaeological Unit.
The display about the Trumpington Cross at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Photo: Andrew Roberts, 9 February 2018.
The display about the Trumpington Cross at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology: the Cross and gold and garnet pins and chain. Photo: Andrew Roberts, 9 February 2018.