A cemetery from the early medieval era in Wales was discovered, containing buried bodies in a crouched position.
A remarkable cemetery from the early medieval period has been discovered near the end of an airport runway in Wales. The cemetery contained carefully positioned female bodies in crouched positions.
Approximately 1,500 years ago, these bodies were interred in a ceremonial manner, with all of them placed on their sides facing south.
In addition to the human remains, there were also fragments of animal bones that had been butchered and pieces of rare imported glass drinking vessels discovered. This suggests that the location was also used for gatherings and feasting.
According to Dr. Andy Seaman, a professor of early medieval archaeology at Cardiff University, the recent finding is very thrilling. It is uncommon to come across sites from this time period in Wales, and they typically do not contain well-preserved bones and artifacts.
It is estimated that there are approximately 80 bodies located on the grounds of Fonmon Castle in the Vale of Glamorgan near Barry. Currently, 18 of these bodies have been analyzed, and out of those, four were found to be buried in a crouched position. This is a significantly higher proportion compared to other sites.
According to Seaman, other websites have also discovered bodies in a crouched position like this one. However, based on the number of graves we have examined thus far, there appears to be a significant proportion. This may suggest that there is a specific burial ritual being performed.
Some people are receiving specific funeral customs, possibly based on their social status or position within the community. However, it is uncertain why this is the case. It is worth noting that all of the crouched burials are oriented towards the south and lying on their right side, suggesting a connection between these individuals.
There is a possibility that the fact that all of our buried individuals are female may not hold any significance. However, since we have only studied small groups so far, we cannot draw definite conclusions. Our future investigations will focus on delving deeper into this matter.
According to archaeologists, the location served a purpose beyond burials. Pieces of unique glass drinking vessels, believed to have originated from western France, were discovered, along with animal bones showing signs of butchery and cooking. Additionally, remnants of metalworking were uncovered.
According to Seaman, there is no indication that anyone was residing in the vicinity of the location. However, the presence of cooking materials and glasses implies that some type of ceremonial feasting may have taken place, possibly in honor of or in remembrance of the deceased.
One intriguing discovery is a tiny bone peg that may have served as a marker in a game or as a tuning peg for a musical instrument.
In 2021, surveys were conducted in the region and identified several intriguing sites. A team from Cardiff University’s school of history, archaeology, and religion has been examining these sites. At first, the researchers suspected that they had found an old farm, but further excavations have uncovered a graveyard with graves dating back to the 6th and 7th centuries.
According to Seaman, this era in Welsh history is not well understood. By studying it, we can improve our knowledge of the post-Roman period.
The project, led by professionals with assistance from students and volunteers, will persist for many years. Seaman stated, “We will provide an unprecedented level of detail and precision in recounting the story of this community.”
Jessica Morgan, a student of archaeology at Cardiff University who has spent the past two summers working at Fonmon, expressed that the experience has deepened her connection to her Welsh roots. She finds the site to be incredibly significant and captivating.
Fonmon Castle was constructed in approximately 1180 as a stronghold and hub for administrative purposes. Its initial proprietors were the St John family, who were of Norman knight descent. Today, the castle is accessible to visitors and serves as a popular destination for events.