Archaeology breakthrough: ‘Formidable’ warlord discovery changes Anglo-Saxon history

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The “Marlow Warlord” stood at a height of six-foot – a staggering stature for a man at the time. He was initially found in August close to the Buckinghamshire town on the outskirts of Greater London. A full-scale archaeological dig got underway after metal detectorists discovered two bronze bowls.

The finding has been described as nothing short of groundbreaking.

Dr Gabor Thomas said it provided “new insights” into life after the collapse of Roman Britain in the fifth century AD.

A specialist in early medieval archaeology from the University of Reading, Dr Thomas researches and analyses early medieval rural settlements and landscapes.

He said the burial suggested “people living in this region may have been more important than historians previously suspected”.

It is believed the burial site dates from around the sixth century AD.

The Marlow Warlord was buried alongside an array of expensive luxuries and weapons.

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Some of the items found include a sword in a grandly decorated scabbard.

Other relics unearthed saw spears being pulled from the ground, as well as bronze and glass vessels.

The pagan burial had remained undiscovered for more than 1,400 years.

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This was until metal detectorists Sue and Mick Washington came across it in 2018.

Along with several other members of the Maidenhead Searchers metal detecting club, they dug up two bronze bowls and registered the discovery with the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS).

The PAS Finds Liaison Officer for Buckinghamshire recovered the bowls, along with a pair of iron spearheads.

Following the initial discovery, the University of Reading’s archaeology team opened a more detailed investigation.

Dr Thomas said: “What we found exceeded all our expectations and provides new insights into this stretch of the Thames in the decades after the collapse of the Roman administration in Britain.

“This guy would have been tall and robust compared to other men at the time, and would have been an imposing figure even today.”

He added that the way the site overlooked the Thames suggested that the warlord was “a respected leader of a local tribe and had probably been a formidable warrior in his own right”.

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