Objects from the famous Prittlewell Anglo-Saxon princely burial have gone on permanent display at Southend Central Museum.
Open to the public for free from Saturday 11 May 2019, the new permanent gallery features some of the chamber’s most impressive items.
In 2003 archaeologists from MOLA excavated a small plot of land in Prittlewell, Essex. The discovery of a well-preserved burial chamber adorned with rare and precious objects astounded archaeologists but many of the burial chamber’s secrets lay concealed beneath centuries of earth and corrosion, only to be revealed as conservators and archaeological specialists began their meticulous work.
Ciara Phipps, Curatorial Manager at Southend Museums Service, said: “The long-awaited return of the Prittlewell Princely burial collection is a hugely exciting and significant moment for Southend Museums Service and the Borough. The finds, now on permanent display at Southend Central Museum, highlight the richness of this community’s heritage and have deepened our understanding of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Essex. Alongside iconic objects such as the gold-foil crosses, we have a huge array of other incredible artefacts for the public to view, such as the unique remains of a Lyre – a musical instrument - and even the surviving tooth fragments of the man himself. This is a turning point for the cultural heritage offer of Southend-on-Sea.”
Previously hidden secrets and insights into the Prittlewell princely burial and the man buried have been painstakingly reconstructed by a team of over 40 archaeological experts. The new research, which is published today by archaeologists from MOLA, and funded by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Historic England, explores the nationally significant collection, including hitherto unidentified artefacts from the Anglo-Saxon princely burial chamber.
Sophie Jackson, MOLA’S Director of Research & Engagement, said: “This is one of the most significant Anglo-Saxon discoveries this country has seen and because of the meticulous attention to detail given when excavating and recording the Prittlewell princely burial, a team of specialists has been able to reveal new elements of the burial chamber, details about the man buried and insights into Anglo-Saxon traditions that we never thought possible.”
Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said: “This burial chamber was an exciting discovery in 2003 and over the years it has slowly been giving up its secrets. The range of exquisite objects discovered here, now around 1400 years old and some of them representing the only surviving examples of their kind, are giving us an extraordinary insight into early Anglo-Saxon craftsmanship and culture.”
The new MOLA research is published today in a MOLA monograph: ‘The Prittlewell Princely Burial Excavations at Priory Crescent, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, 2003’, priced £35, and a popular book: ‘The AngloSaxon Princely Burial at Prittlewell, Southend-on-Sea’, priced £15. Both publications are available to buy from the MOLA website.
The online interactive chamber can be viewed on the Prittlewell Princely Burial website.
Please note the Southend Central Museum is closed on Mondays.