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Students discover woman buried with cow

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Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Central Lancashire students discovered the skeletal remains of a woman buried with a cow.

 The discovery, unearthed in an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in Oakington, as been branded as ‘genuinely bizarre’ by the archaeologists - who as first thought the remains were that of a horse.

Student Jake Nuttall explained: "Male warriors might be buried with horses, but a woman and a cow is new to us."

He revealed that they were excited when he and his colleagues thought that it was a horse but the discovery that it was a cow made their find ‘bizarre’.

Co-director of the excavation, Dr Duncan Sayer, from the University of Central Lancashire, said: "Animal burials are extremely rare...”

He explained that historically, “There are only 31 horse burials in Britain and they are all with men.”

Dr Sayer added: "This is the first animal to be discovered with a woman from this period - the late fifth Century - and it's really interesting that it's a cow, a symbol of economic and domestic wealth and power.

"It's also incredibly early to find any grave of a woman buried with such obvious wealth."

The wealth he is referring to are the complete chatelaine [keychain] set, which is an iron girdle that were buried with the mysterious woman. According to Dr Sayer, these items symbolise the access that she had to the community’s wealth.

Joint director Dr Faye Simpson, from Manchester Metropolitan, said: "A cow is a big thing to give up.

"It's a source of food and something that would have been very expensive to keep, so to sacrifice it would be a big decision.

"They would have wanted to give her something really important to show respect and they wouldn't have done that for just anybody.

"That's why we don't find cows with burials," she said.

Dr Sayer added that the cow makes this find extremely important as it is unique to Europe.

“I don't think I'll find anything as significant as this again in my lifetime,” he said.




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