A small stone box, containing the cremated remains of a woman and some of her possessions, was found in Dartmoor National Park over a decade ago and unearthed three years ago when a peat mound sheltering it for 4,000 years washed away. Archaeologists say the contents include tin beads and studs which are the earliest examples of metal-working in the area, jewelry that includes amber from the Baltic Sea area and a scrap of fur believed to be from a bear whose species became extinct 1,000 years ago.
"I never expected to see anything like this in my life. This is the first scientifically excavated burial on the moor, and the most significant ever. Previously we had eight beads [made in] Dartmoor. Now we have 200," said Jane Marchand, chief archaeologist of the Dartmoor National Park Authority.
The area includes monuments and parts of buildings from the era, but few prehistoric burials have ever been found, the British newspaper the Guardian said Sunday. Although tin, essential in the making of bronze, has been found locally, there was no previous evidence of smelting it from such an early date.
The jewelry and other artifacts will be part of an exhibition in Plymouth's city museum later this year. The investigation is unlikely to determine who the deceased was and why her burial was so elaborate, the newspaper said.