ARCHEOLOGISTS have discovered the remains of a youthful warrior, who had been ritually speared “to release his spirit”, more than 2,000 years ago at a “nationally and internationally significant” site in East Yorkshire.
The skeleton of the young man - who was lying with a broken sword by his side - were uncovered by archeologists during work on a housing development in Pocklington which revealed 75 square barrows containing remains from the Arras Culture - a group of people who lived in the region in the Middle Iron Age.
Paula Ware, managing director at MAP Archaeological Practice, said after the youngster, who was aged 17 to 23, had been put in a box in the grave in a crouched position his mourners had placed four spears along his spine and another in his groin. “Our interpretation of that, we are thinking in terms of it releasing his spirit,” she added.
The archeologist said the sword had probably been broken “in antiquity” as part of the ritual.
The remains of another man were found placed on a shield in what she said was a “unique” find.
The 100 per cent excavation of the site is enabling the largest study of an Iron Age population in the last 35 years.
Mrs Ware said: “He was possibly a warrior - someone who had achieved status within society. In the Iron Age we can definitely see this ritual of death was so important. It wasn’t just a simple thing.”
David Wilson Homes found the settlement at its Pavilion Square development after it started work in September 2014. The discovery will be aired on BBC Four’s Digging for Britain at 8pm today.
Further analysis will be carried out using the latest techniques to reveal how those buried at the site died and the stresses they came under during their lives.
Peter Morris, development director at David Wilson Homes, said: “These findings are of national significance and could help shape our understanding of the ‘Arras Culture’ and indeed the Iron Age as a whole. At present we are still at the early analytical stages of reviewing these findings, however we do understand that this discovery is very rare and of international importance.”
Mrs Ware added: “We wouldn’t have known about this site if it had not been for this development. Developers get a bad press, however as archeologists we are thankful because that is how we are employed.”