It was a landmark find. Not just for metal detectorist Graham Vickers, but for the archaeological world.
In a plough field, located in Little Carlton, Lincolnshire, England, Vickers discovered a silver stylus— a writing tool dating from the 8th century. Subsequently, Vickers contacted the Portable Antiquities Scheme, a project that encourages the England and Wales public to voluntarily record archaeological finds.
But Vickers’ find was just the beginning.
Univ. of Sheffield archaeologists, toiling at the site, have unearthed a myriad of objects. They believe the site was once home to a Middle Saxon settlement, perhaps a trading or monastic center.
Unearthed objects include 21 styli, about 300 dress pins, and a plethora of “Sceattas,” which are coins from the 7th and 8th centuries. Additionally, a lead tablet labeled with the female Anglo-Saxon name “Cudberg” was found.
“It’s clearly a very high-status Saxon site,” said Hugh Willmott, of the university’s Dept. of Archaeology, to The Guardian. “It’s one of the most important sites of its kind in that part of the world. The quantity of finds that have come from the site is very unusual—it’s clearly not your everyday find.”
Willmott and Pete Townend, a doctoral student with the department, performed geophysical and magnetometry surveys of the site, and used 3-D modeling to “visualize the landscape on a large scale,” according to the Univ. of Sheffield.
The land, which rises out of lower surroundings, was once surrounded by water. To recreate the environment, the researchers digitally raised the water level to gain a view of how the island would’ve appeared during the medieval period.
“Our findings have demonstrated that this is a site of international importance, but its discovery and initial interpretation has only been possible through engaging with a responsible local metal detectorist,” Willmott added.
Nine evaluation trenches have been opened at the site, and researchers and students have discovered butchered animal bones, Middle Saxon pottery, and an area that they believe was used for industrial work.
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