The remains of a banqueting hall unearthed in Kent, thought to date to the late 6th or early 7th century, represents one of the most important Anglo-Saxon discoveries in more than a generation, according to archaeologists. The structure, discovered by a team from the University of Reading, measured 21 metres by 8.5 metres and is thought to have held as many as 60 people. As well as piles of animal bones buried in pits, suggesting the building’s use for large feasts, researchers also found bone combs, pieces of jewellery and a gilded horse harness.
Gabor Thomas, director of the excavations, said: “This would have undoubtedly been the scene of many Beowulfy-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.”
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Matthew Beresford, who carried out the study, said: “Throughout the Anglo-Saxon period the punishment of being buried in water-logged ground, face down, decapitated, staked or otherwise was reserved for thieves, murders or traitors or, later, for those deviants who did not conform to society’s rules”.