4,500-year-old remains in Britain suggest 'woman of importance'

April 22, 2013 at 4:49 PM
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WINDSOR, England, April 22 (UPI) -- Gold beads and a finely decorated cup found in Britain in the 4,500-year-old burial site of a woman suggest she was someone of importance, archaeologists say.

The discovery in a quarry in Berkshire of the remains with a precious necklace of tubular gold beads is a particularly rare find from a woman's grave of the period, they said.

Although dubbed "Kingsmead's queen" after the quarry near Windsor where she was found, architects from Wessex Archaeology said it would be more accurate to term her "a woman of importance," as the gold and other jewelry suggest she had considerable wealth and status in the community.

"It is interesting to think who this woman was within her community," archaeologist Gareth Chaffey said in a release from Wessex Archaeology. "She was probably an important person in her society, perhaps holding some standing which gave her access to prestigious, rare and exotic items."

A finely decorated cup found with her remains suggests she was of a people dubbed the Beaker Folk, new arrivals in Britain from the continent. The Beaker Folk had advanced metal-working skills in copper and gold who were often buried with an array of possessions including pottery cups, the scientists said.

"Beaker graves of this date are almost unknown in southeast England and only a small number of them, and indeed continental Europe, contain gold ornaments," Copper Age metalwork expert Stuart Needham said. "The tubular beads that were found at Kingsmead quarry are certainly rare in Britain and this gives the grave tremendous research importance."

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