Writing in The Independent yesterday, David Keys reports that –
Archaeologists, excavating near the Royal Borough [of Windsor], have discovered the 4400 year old gold-adorned skeleton of an upper class woman who was almost certainly a member of the local ruling elite. She is the earliest known woman adorned with such treasures ever found in Britain. The individual, aged around 40, was buried, wearing a necklace of folded sheet gold, amber and lignite beads, just a century or two after the construction of Stonehenge some 60 miles to the south-west. Even the buttons, thought to have been used to secure the upper part of her now long-vanished burial garment, were made of amber. She also appears to have worn a bracelet of lignite beads.
The archaeologist in charge of the excavation, Gareth Chaffey of Wessex Archaeology, believes that she may have been a person of power – perhaps even the prehistoric equivalent of a princess or queen.
It’s thought that the gold used to make the jewellery probably came originally from hundreds of miles to the west – and that the amber almost certainly came from Britain’s North Sea coast. The lignite (a form of coal) is also thought to have come from Britain.
The discovery is part of a still ongoing excavation which started a decade ago. The elite gold-and-amber-adorned Copper Age woman is merely the most spectacular of dozens of discoveries made at the site – including four early Neolithic houses, 40 Bronze Age burials, three Bronze Age farm complexes and several Iron Age settlements.
The excavations are being funded by the international cement company CEMEX, whose gravel quarry near Windsor is the site of the discoveries.
Full article here. See also the feature in Wessex Archaeology online here.