Iron Age Warrior with Roman Links Found in U.K.

August 8, 2008

The grave of an ancient British warrior with tantalizing Roman connections has been unearthed in southern England, archaeologists say.

The 2,000-year-old skeleton of the tribal king or nobleman was found buried with military trappings, including a bronze helmet and an ornate shield both of a style previously unknown in Britain, experts say.

The Iron Age man, who died in his 30s, was discovered in June at the site of a new housing development in North Bersted on England's southeastern coast.

(Read about another Iron Age man recently found in Denmark.)

"What we've found is of national and international importance," said dig team member Mark Taylor, senior archaeologist at West Sussex County Council.

Unique Discoveries

Pottery—including three large jars placed at the foot of the grave—date the site to between A.D. 40 and A.D. 60, the team said.

A bronze shield boss was found along with semicircular latticework plates that are thought to have decorated the shield.

The ornate artwork is unique "certainly in the U.K. and Europe, as far as we know," Taylor said.

The scroll patterning most closely resembles that of mainland Europe's La Tène culture, named after a late Iron Age site in Switzerland, Taylor noted.

The domed helmet likely had a similar origin, according to John Creighton, an archaeologist from the University of Reading.

Creighton, who specializes in the late Iron Age period, said it appears to be a Celtic-style Mannheim helmet—the first one ever found in Britain.

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