British man helps scientists uncover 8th-century settlement

A sceat found at the site. (Credit: Portable Antiquities Scheme)

The newly discovered remains of an Anglo-Saxon island include artifacts that suggest the site may have been a monastic or trading center.

The discovery at Little Carlton near Louth, Lincolnshire, was made after a local metal detectorist, Graham Vickers, found an intriguing item and reported it to the Portable Antiquities Scheme—which encourages the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by the public in England and Wales.

glass counter decorated with twisted colorful strands found at the site
A glass counter decorated with twisted colorful strands found at the site. (Credit: Portable Antiquities Scheme)

The artifact—a silver ornate stylus dating back to the 8th century and found in a plowed field—offered clues to the significant settlement below.

The large number of artifacts include 21 styli, around 300 dress pins, and a huge number of “‘sceattas,” coins from the 7th and 8th centuries. The discovery also includes a small lead tablet bearing the faint but legible letters spelling “Cudberg,” which is a female Anglo-Saxon name.

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Researchers from the University of Sheffield visited the site to conduct targeted geophysical and magnetometry surveys along with 3D modeling to visualize the landscape on a large scale.

The imagery suggests the island is much more obvious than the land today, rising out of its lower surroundings. To complete the picture, researchers raised the water level digitally to bring it back up to its early medieval height based on the topography and geophysical survey.

“Our findings have demonstrated that this is a site of international importance, but its discovery and initial interpretation has only been possible through engaging with a responsible local metal detectorist,” says Hugh Willmott, professor of archaeology.

Following the initial discovery, researchers opened nine evaluation trenches at the site which revealed a wealth of information about what life would have been like at the settlement, including an area which appears to be a sort of industrial site, Middle Saxon pottery, and butchered animal bone.

Source: University of Sheffield