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1,300-year-old Anglo Saxon feasting hall unearthed by archaeologists

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 1st, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Archaeologists have uncovered the foundations of a huge Anglo-Saxon feasting hall below a village green in Kent. The structure, where a king and his warriors would have enjoyed epic feasts was found just inches underground. The artifacts found there provide a fascinating glimpse into primitive like in the United Kingdom.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Working with local villagers, a team from the University of Reading made the discovery in Lyminge, Kent. Measuring 69 feet by 28 feet, the hall would have been an impressive structure with room for at least 60 people.

Animal bones, found buried in pits near the edge of the hall bear witness to the many lavish feasts of yore. The hall was clearly the largest for miles around, before its abandonment and destruction.

A piece of gilded horse harness was also found among the foundations. The discovery helped archaeologists date the hall back to the late sixth or early seventh century.

Jewelry, bone combs and a well preserved manicure set, consisting of three small bronze rods strung onto a piece of wire were also found. Even back then, the men and women practiced good grooming skills.

"The horse harness decoration is very significant," Dr. Gabor Thomas, director of the Lyminge excavations says. "It's not just a wonderful find, but evidence of the status of the people who used this site. The ability to own and upkeep a horse was the mark of the warrior aristocracy."

"Beowulf," the most famous of all surviving Anglo-Saxon poems, is set in the late fifth century and describes the eponymous hero coming to a hall such as the one most recently discovered.

"This would undoubtedly have been the scene of many Beowulf-y type activities, great assemblies for feasts that lasted for days, much drinking and story-telling, rich gifts like arm rings being presented, all of that.

"There could have been no more visible sign of wealth and status than raising a hall like this.

"This is before centralized tax collecting and coinage, too early for royal palaces as such.

"To keep control you had to keep on the move, stopping at significant places, literally feeding off the land, off the rich food offerings that would be brought everywhere the king arrived," he says.

Thomas also believes that the hall foundations indicate the last of Britain's ancient pagan rituals.

Evidence was discovered that the hall was damaged, if not destroyed, by fire, a common fate for wooden buildings centered on an open hearth.

Thomas said he believes the hall was abandoned deliberately as the Anglo-Saxons of that tribe, along with many others, turned to Christianity.

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