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June 15, 2005

Secret filming at Saxon tomb

Grave of gold is given the Time Team treatment

BIG DIG: Clockwise from top: the archaeologists at work; a jug; gold jewellery

SOUTHEND'S very own 'King of Bling' was the star of a Channel 4 television programme on Monday night.

A Time Team Special, hosted by Tony Robinson, followed the investigation into one of the most important archaeological finds in recent times - the discovery of a Saxon king's burial chamber in Priory Crescent, Prittlewell.

The grave was unearthed in 2003 by archaeologists, working on behalf od Southend Council, who were evaluating land due to used for a road-widening scheme.

The find, which contained a number of treasures, was dated at 630AD. The body in the grave had disintegrated.

Through painstaking laboratory work and historical research, archaeologists managed to decipher the significance of the precious finds.

The burial chamber contained more than 140 items, including a solid gold buckle, gold coins, gold crosses, gold rimmed drinking horns and glass vessels.

The king was thought to have a connection with nearby St Mary's Church.

The Rev Roger Mason, St Mary's church leader, featured in the programme along with Southend Museum archaeologist Ken Crowe.

Channel 4 said the programme had been filmed in secret shortly after the discoveries were made.

A spokesman said: "We were very grateful to the Museum of London who managed the whole operation and for inviting us to get involved.

"We filmed Tony Robinson secretly to protect the site after the dig."

  • There will be a free talk about the dig on June 28, at 1.10pm at the Museum of London, London Wall.

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