Bronze Age archer found buried in all his splendour - and gold earrings

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The Independent Online

Archaeologists have discovered what they say is the richest early Bronze Age burial site in Britain, not far from Stonehenge.

Archaeologists have discovered what they say is the richest early Bronze Age burial site in Britain, not far from Stonehenge.

The 4,000-year-old grave contains the remains of an archer and about 100 objects, including a pair of rare gold earrings.

Wessex Archaeology, which uncovered the grave at Amesbury, Wiltshire, said it was astonished and very excited about the find. It said the site dates back to around 2,300BC, several hundred years earlier than many burial sites uncovered in the area.

Dr Andrew Fitzpatrick, the Wessex Archaeology project manager, said: "As well as the archery equipment, the man had three copper knives and a pair of gold earrings.

"We think that the earrings were wrapped around the ear rather than hanging from the ear lobe. These are some of the earliest kinds of metal object found in Britain. They were very rare and the metals they were made from may have been imported.

"The fact that so many valuable objects have been found together is unique. This association is the most important thing about the find."

The man has been identified as an archer because of stone arrowheads and wristguards that protected the arm from the recoil of the bow buried with him. There were also stone tools for butchering carcasses, and for making arrowheads.

The grave was found in the course of building development on behalf of Bloor Homes and Persimmon Homes South Coast. Ron Hatchett, the strategic land director of Bloor Homes, said: "We have worked closely with the archaeologists and have altered our plans to protect known archaeological sites."

Andrew Lawson, the chief executive of Wessex Archaeology, said the find was important because the grave was several hundred years older than others found.

"It raises the question of who this archer was and why his mourners buried so many valuable things with him."

The range of arrowheads, bracers, flints and spatula puts this among the largest groups of archery equipment ever found together, it said.

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