Monday 5 November 2012

Saxon find in Lyminge has historians partying like it's 599

A still from the 2007 motion-capture film Beowulf. The epic poem featured a great hall of its own, Heorot, whose ‘radiance shone over many lands’. Photograph: Paramount/Everett/Rex Features
The foundations of a spectacular Anglo-Saxon feasting hall, a place where a king and his warriors would have gathered for days of drinking and eating – as vividly described in the poem Beowulf – have been found inches below the village green of Lyminge in Kent.

There was one last celebration by the light of flickering flames at the site, 1,300 years after the hall was abandoned, as archaeologists marked the find by picking out the outline of the hall in candles, lighting up the end-of-excavation party. Heaps of animal bones buried in pits around the edge of the hall bore testimony to many epic parties of the past.

The unexpected find, by a team from the University of Reading funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and working with local archaeologists and villagers, is exceptionally rare. Digging under the curious gaze of drinkers in the garden of the Coach and Horses pub a few metres away, it is the first great hall from the period to be discovered in more than 30 years.

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