"England's Equivalent to Tutankhamun's Tomb" Found Next to an Aldi in Essex

By Shabana Arif on at

An Anglo-Saxon tomb, described as the UK answer to King Tutankhamun’s, has been found on a roadside in Prittlewell, Essex close to a local pub and an Aldi supermarket. That's the most British equivalent of anything imaginable, so bravo, archaeologists.

After 15 years excavating the site, scientists have confirmed that it holds the remains of an adolescent male around 5ft 8in tall who died in approximately 580 CE, reports the Independent. Interestingly, he seems to have been a Christian convert - or so the gold foil cross he was buried with might indicate. Missionaries employed to do the ancient equivalent of knocking on doors with their pamphlets were dispatched to Kent in 597, so he was an early adopter.

"I think it’s our equivalent of Tutankhamun’s tomb. Getting an intact version of this and seeing how everything is positioned and what he’s got with him," says research director, Sophie Jackson.

"I think the thing that’s so strange about it is that it was such an unpromising-looking site. It’s between a bit of railway and a bit of road, essentially a verge. It’s not where you’d expect to find it.” Seems like the perfect place to find a dead body.

Other items found in the tomb include drinking horns, a Byzantine empire flagon, and a painted box that, so far, is the only instance of painted Anglo-Saxon woodwork discovered in the country.

"Prittlewell was from the moment of its discovery in 2003 seen to be something very special, which would do for the East Saxons what Sutton Hoo has been doing since 1939 for the East Angles: cast new light on the elite, as shown by their burial customs, during the period of their conversion to Christianity in the late sixth and early seventh centuries," commented Professor Simon Keynes of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Artefacts from the site are planned to go on display at Southend Central Museum from May 11.

King Tut's tomb, in which he spontaneously combusted - post-mortem, obviously - contained a space dagger, and for a time, scientists speculated that it held secret chamber that could have held the body of Queen Nefertiti, but this theory was quashed in 2018. The Egyptian king's tomb has since been renovated.