Thursday, July 23, 2015

Marlborough Man (Beaker emerges from Wilsford Henge dig near Pewsey)

A Bell Beaker individual was uncovered in a ditch of Wilsford Henge seven miles south of Marlborough, Wiltshire. 

*Update*  Nick T points to the press release in the comments section.  The individual is an adolenscent, still don't know the gender or age.  The individual was buried with an amber necklace, which I think indicates he was male (we'll see).  You may remember another adolecent (male) was discovered near Stonehenge two or three years ago, also weaponless with a rich amber necklace.  Will be exciting to see this develop.

From the Marlboroughnewsonline:

"Archaeoligists unearth a skeleton in a Bronze Age burial at the Wilsford Henge excavation near Marden" Tony Millet 22 July 2015

The individual, gender unreported, was buried with characteristic beaker pottery and a bead necklace.  The archaeologists have given samples for isotopic analysis.  Maybe, since this is the modern age and not the 1950's, someone will take a DNA sample for full genomic analysis.  But hey!

It's difficult to know the orientation looking at the drawing, but it appears the individual is head north, facing West, unless it is a woman head south, facing East and the drawing is upside-down(?)  Jim Leary, the project leader, accepted the public for several days who turned out by the hundreds.  Lucky them!

At the nearby Marden Henge, the same team had in 2011 found a sauna dating roughly to the same period

Several other excavation trenches are part of the project looking at a Roman farm, pigs bones, weird pottery and other things.  Wildsford and Marden Henges are in the Salisbury plain that includes some of the famous monuments like Stonehenge.

more on their layout


  1. Hand-in-mouth? Is that a common trait of Bell Beaker burials? I hope they work on the DNA...

    1. Typically the hands are in a praying near the chest or face. I can see the graphic right now, I remember one arm was around the belly or midsection. There are some women buried like this that I've seen, but since Nick T says the individual had an amber necklace, I'm wondering if it was a male instead.

  2. Hi BBB,

    The head is definitely facing West (you have cut the other grid point off the plan). I see the hand as below the chin on that plan.
    Also, the press release ( mentions an amber necklace, but not Beaker pottery, so I wonder if the pottery is in the ditch, but not directly associated with the burial.

    1. Thanks for sharing. It's interesting to know the beads are amber. I believe the only other two individuals who have had full amber necklaces were both males, one from Germany and a boy near Stonehenge. It's interesing that in both of those previous cases near male had any weapons of sort.
      I'd bet this individual is likely a male also, possibly and indication of a specific social class?

    2. Ok, adolescent! Will update the post with new information