An assessment excavation was carried out on a low but distinct mound in Oxborough parish where a metal-detector survey and fieldwalking had recovered forty-one Early Saxon objects and a concentration of prehistoric flints, suggesting that the mound represented the remains of a barrow, later re-used as the focus of an Early Saxon cemetery.
Although excavation revealed that the mound was natural, it was encircled by a ring-ditch, possibly in prehistoric times. Ten graves were found, some containing articulated skeletons, others jumbled bones.One skull bore the neat and healed hole of a successful trepanation. Grave-goods were few, perhaps because some had been carried away by the plough. The finds are typical of ‘Anglian’ burials of the 6th century, except for a silvered bronze buckle of possible Kentish origin.
The results of the excavation were unexpected in that the quantity of finds from the topsoil were thought to indicate a considerable number of Early Saxon graves. In practice, most had been destroyed by ploughing, and their contents brought up to the ploughsoil. This result has implications for excavation strategy and for the interpretation of fieldwork evidence in areas of intense arable farming.
Kenneth Penn, 1998. 'An Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Oxborough, West Norfolk: Excavations in 1990', East Anglian Archaeology Occasional Papers 5