The archaeologists dug enthusiastically despite the pouring rain. Working beneath a makeshift shelter, they knew that they had unearthed something exciting. The evening before, they’d uncovered evidence of a rare bed burial. Now there was something shiny glinting in the soil. Something that would turn out to be an amazingly rare artifact over 1,000 years old.
Trumpington is a village on the outer fringes of Cambridge, England. And in 2011 new housing was slated for development in Trumpington Meadows, just outside the village. Before the building began, however, a team of archaeologists from Cambridge University carried out a series of excavations. That was because prehistoric and Roman settlements had previously been discovered in the area.
As the archaeologists dug deeper, they soon realized that they’d found a hitherto unknown Anglo-Saxon settlement. And within it they discovered four graves. “We started excavating the first of those, and straight away we knew something was different about it,” recalled Alison Dickens, who led the excavation for Cambridge University’s Archaeological Unit, in a YouTube video uploaded in March 2012.