One of the most famous archeological excavations in the United Kingdom was that of the Street House Anglo-Saxon cemetery. Located near Loftus, North Yorkshire, the cemetery dates all the way back to the 7th century. It was so ancient and overgrown, it was only discovered when aerial photographs of the area revealed a sort of rectangular enclosure – indicating that something previously stood in the seemingly empty field. Excavations went underway on and off from 2005-2011, discovering a total of 109 graves – many of which contained unique treasures and artifacts. However, of all those graves, one stood out easily as the most exceptional and interesting: the “Saxon Princess” bed burial.
Grave 42, aka the Saxon Princess grave, consisted of a large pit where a body had been placed on a wooden bed with iron fittings. The quantity and quality of the jewelry in the grave indicate that this was the resting place of an extremely important woman (that body has since completely deteriorated and disappeared). The gold jewelry with precious gem inlays, was so finely crafted that archaeologists believe the woman was no less than a princess.
The “bedding” style in which she was buried is considered extremely rare, with only a handful of other examples found in all of England. Due to the nature of the graves, archaeologists think that the entire burial site revolved around this one Saxon princess. Gold coins and other artifacts found in the graves are not from the area, indicating that most, if not all of the people buried there were outsiders.
The Saxon princess’ possessions went on display at the nearby Kirkleatham Museum in 2011 where it has already attracted thousands of local visitors.