Burial of a Princess: Treasures from a Saxon Cemetery in Ely

On a cold winter’s day in 2006, archaeologists discovered the grave of a young woman, buried with beautiful treasures. Cambridge Archaeological Unit had been brought in by Taylor Woodrow Developments Ltd to excavate the site in Ely, in advance of housing development.

They found an Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemetery, located between the A10 bypass and Witchford Road, to the south-west of Ely city centre.

Two of the graves contained many high status items such as jewellery and treasured possessions. Another 15 graves were excavated and those contained occasional simple items such as a knife or bead.

Following the excavation, the finds were cleaned, recorded and conserved and archaeologists published a report on the site, exploring its significance.

The site has been dated to the late seventh century, which brings it intriguingly close to 673AD, the date when Etheldreda founded the religious house in Ely, that later became Ely Cathedral.

Ely Museum is excited to now be able to display the grave goods from the two female burials for the first time. The exhibition will showcase the stunning objects and explore what they can tell us about who these people were and how they may have related to Etheldreda.

The exhibition runs from 21st January – 18th June 2023 and admission is included with a museum ticket or annual pass.

Alongside the exhibition, there will be a series of talks and events for the whole family to enjoy.

Image copyright Cambridge Archaeological Unit