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Kingston Down Grave 205

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posted on 10.11.2021, 15:30 by Helena HamerowHelena Hamerow
This tumulus exceeded the middle size. The grave far exceeded any which I have before opened, both in depth, length, and width; it being full six feet deep, and ten feet long, and eight feet broad. The coffin, which seemed to have been much burnt, and very thick, appeared to have been equal to the dimensions of the grave, and had been strongly bound and secured at its corners with large clasps and riveted pieces of iron. The bones were much decayed; the skeleton did not appear to have borne any proportion to the dimensions either of the grave or coffin. The skull was remarkably small, and seemed to have had what we call a very low or short forehead. Near the neck, or rather more towards the right shoulder, was a most surprisingly beautiful and large fibula subnectens [M 6226]: it is entirely of gold; and is most elegantly and richly set with garnets and some pale blue stones, the name of which I am at present a stranger to; it is three and a half inches in diameter, a quarter of an inch in thickness, and weighs 6oz. 5dwt. 18gr. The acus on the under side is quite entire, and is also beautifully ornamented with garnets.[1] I flatter myself it is altogether one of the most curious and, for its size, costly pieces of antiquity ever discovered in England; with it was found a golden amulet, or ornament for the neck [M 6231]: it is one-eighth of an inch in diameter, and weighs 2dwt. 7gr. Here were also two very neat silver fibulas [M 6234 & M 6235], of an ingenious contrivance, and different from any I have yet seen described. Montfaucon has some a little like them. These were found near the bone of the left thigh; here was also just such an iron instrument as that described before, at No. 142. It plainly appeared to have been riveted to some wood; it was found at the feet, and certainly belonged to a box; but its particular use I cannot guess at. Along with it were found two small hinges (as in No. 26) [M 6232]: an iron chain like those mentioned before; it consisted of about twenty links, each about two inches long, and about the size of a crow quill; each link was twisted a little way at each end, for forming the eyes, exactly like that described before, at No. 59. Here was a wrought urn of coarse red earth [M 6227]; two brass kettles, or pans; one of them is in shape pretty much like that described at No. 76; but is much larger than that, being thirteen inches wide, and four and a half inches deep [M 6230]; it has two handles also on the outside, and appears to have been gilded in the inside. The other was much smaller [M 6229], and was found in the great one. This, which has three little handles, appears also to have been gilded on the inside, and has three flat coin-like pieces of copper soldered on its outside, like that described at No. 76. So that, it is plain; it was not intended for any use over a fire, which would immediately have melted them off; under the large pan was a small brass trivet [M 6233], about four inches diameter. All these things, I think, were in the coffin; and beyond the coffin, and at the foot of it, were the bones of a child; they were very fresh, white, and sound; and lay altogether in a heap. These, doubtless, had been buried previous to the interment of the mother, (for so I think I may venture to call the person here deposited), and were at that time taken up and placed at her feet in the manner we found them. What should make them so much sounder than those of the mother, I do not pretend to give any guess. Here was also a beautiful green glass urn [M 6228], finely coated both inside and outside with armatura or electrum. Certainly the grave of a woman.[2][1]The splendour of this extraordinary gold fibula can only be appreciated by examination of the object itself, or by reference to the coloured engraving, which shews views of the front, back, and side [see images of objects below]. The stones are garnet and turquois; the white substance being apparently a kind of mother of pearl. The semicircular chain-work is very neatly milled and enchased on the ground of the fibula; and the effect of the garnets is heightened by layers of goldfoil. The setting of the acus on the reverse, it will be perceived, is arranged in a manner different from the usual mode; there is another example of this arrangement of the acus in the fine fibula from grave 299. The catch which receives the point of the acus seems intended to represent a snake's head; it is ornamented with neat filigree work, such as is also arranged round the base of the hinge. The safety of this valuable jewel was provided for by a loop by which it could be securely fixed to the dress.- C.R.S.[2]This is one of the richest graves of the hundreds opened by Mr. Faussett. From the costly character of its contents it must have belonged to a person of distinction. The arrangement and the variety of the objects deposited in the grave, afford interesting materials for the archaeologist, especially when carefully compared with those of graves such as Nos. 142 and 299. - C.R.S.


Grave title


Date excavated

August 5th, 1771


Faussett 1856

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