By Ian Meadows (ed.)
Review by Edward Biddulph
The discovery in 1997 in Northamptonshire of a richly furnished burial dating to the late 7th century AD made national headlines and captured the public imagination. The grave contained a young adult male of princely class. Buried with him were, among other objects, a helmet (deliberately ‘killed’ before burial), a decorated sword, and a bronze hanging-bowl. Mineralised organic remains hint at textiles placed underneath the body.
This slim but hugely informative book describes the excavation of the grave, presents the detailed reports on artefactual and scientific analyses, and offers a discussion that places the grave in its archaeological and historical context.
The book reminds readers of the incredible work to conserve and reconstruct the grave-goods – some of them shattered into tiny fragments – and neatly draws together the evidence to address some intriguing questions. Why was the warrior buried in such an apparently isolated spot? Was he pagan or Christian? The book is, however, silent on one question: why did the warrior die so young? Unfortunately, the poor preservation of his skeleton means that we will probably never know.