UK’s Tutankhamun found behind Essex Aldi

Tankard: Made of solid gold, this would have held the Prince of Prittlewell’s favourite tipple

The discovery of a “King of Bling” buried with his harp and other treasures, is a triumph for pop culture and suggests that the masses in medieval Britain were more cultured than we thought.

A royal burial site found between a pub and Aldi supermarket has been hailed as the UK’s answer to Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Workers unearthed the grave, which contained dozens of rare artefacts, during roadworks in Prittlewell in Essex.

Tooth fragments were the only human remains, but experts guess they belonged to a 6th-century, Anglo-Saxon prince.

The tomb was undisturbed for 1,400 years, and contained over 40 possessions, including a lyre, a sword, gold-plated cups and coins. The discovery of gold crosses laid onto the eyes suggest that it was a Christian burial (when Christianity was first appearing on the British Isles).

Locals are calling the Essex royal, the ‘King of Bling’ or the ‘Prince of Prittlewell’.

The prince’s grave tells us more about our Anglo-Saxon history. For many years, these years were called the dark ages — a time of illiteracy and barbaric, warring kingdoms.

But now it is clear that Anglo-Saxon England was, in fact, a cosmopolitan centre of European culture.

The Prince of Prittlewell was buried with a flagon believed to have come from Syria.

Around this time, it is known that monks in Northumbria produced the oldest-ever complete Bible in Latin. The epic poem Beowulf was also written in Anglo-Saxon times and was the birth of written English as we know it.

So, should we re-write the history books?

Not long ago, scientists discovered that although the Romans, Vikings and Normans ruled the British for hundreds of years, they have hardly left a trace on our DNA. The Anglo-Saxons, however, have left a mark on the UK: most white Britons now owe almost 30% of their DNA to them.

Pop star?

Maybe this means we owe more to the Saxons than we thought? Anglo-Saxon culture also produced art, music and literature, which suggests that ancient Britons enjoyed popular culture. So, isn’t it perfect that it should turn up between an Aldi supermarket and a pub in Essex?

You Decide

  1. Would you like to live in Anglo Saxon times?

Activities

  1. Make a list of up to 10 of your most prized possessions. What do these objects say about you and your life?

Some People Say...

“Perhaps in time the so-called Dark Ages will be thought of as including our own.”

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
An ancient Anglo Saxon burial mound was discovered during roadworks in Prittlewell, Essex, in 2013. Some of the artefacts will be on permanent display at Southend Central Museum from Saturday.
What do we not know?
Who exactly the Prince of Prittlewell is, although we suspect it is King Seabert’s brother.

Word Watch

Tutankhamun
Now the most famous pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, his tomb (and his famous gold death mask) was discovered in 1922. He died almost 3,000 years ago.
Artefacts
Old objects made by humans.
Fragments
Pieces.
Lyre
An ancient musical instrument. It was stringed like a harp.
Illiteracy
Without reading and writing skills.
Barbaric
Cruel.
Warring
Fighting.
Cosmopolitan
International.
Flagon
Container for drink.
Northumbria
In Anglo-Saxons times, this was an area the covered the north of England and the south of Scotland. Today, it is a smaller place in the north-east of England.
Popular culture
Culture (including art, music, books) that can be enjoyed by all. For example, pop music.