The Saxon King

The other side of the road from Priory Park in Southend where I often used to play as a child held a secret. A man was buried there with a stash of goodies, hidden for over a thousand years. If only I’d got my bucket and spade out when I was a nipper. The burial chamber of the Saxon King was found in 2003 during a road widening scheme. I bet that held things up for a little while! It’s one of the most important Anglo-Saxon finds in the country. The treasures were so opulent that their owner was nicknamed the King of Bling. Here’s the first example, one of his drinking jars.

Now, even though the remains of the corpse decomposed so that sex identification wasn’t possible, archeologists know it was a boy buried here and not a girl. That’s because there wasn’t much frou-frou jewellery. Mostly practical manly things were found. There’s a few bits of gold. These crosses are my favourite items. It is thought that these were put across the king’s eyes in the grave.

Just in case he got a bit bored in the afterlife he had a lute.

And he could play games with his counters and dice. It would probably have been of the solitaire type though seeing that he was buried alone.

There are practical things too. Here’s a bucket.

And there were a couple of these blue glass jars. There were some green ones too but apparently they are less rare. Isn’t it amazing that these survived intact?

And just in case our king got peckish and fancied something hot to eat he had a cauldron to rustle up a stew.

The relics of the Saxon King are housed in Southend’s Central Museum. I visited last time I went to see my parents. But for those further afield who are unable to see the collection in person here’s a link to a virtual tour of the burial chamber.

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