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“speared like a hedgehog”75 Iron Age graves found in East Yorkshire

Just recently, archaeologists in Pocklington, East Yorkshire found 75 graves with skeletons in them. They believe that the graves date back to the Iron Age, nearly 2,500 years ago. One of those skeletons found on a building site was described by archaeologists of having been “speared like a hedgehog”.

The skeletons belonged to the people from the Arras culture, a group that had lived in the region in the Iron Age, which dated as far back as 800 BC.


Source:MAP archaeology practice
Source:MAP archaeology practice

The grave was found by a housing developer who happened to stumble upon the archaeological site. After further investigation and excavations, the site is considered nationally and internationally significant. The skeletons were originally found on a plot of land that was being surveyed for building new houses. One of the skeletons found was on a man in his late teens or early 20s. He had died with his sword at his side; however, before he died he had six spears pressed into him.

This grave site will allow archaeologists to study one of the largest Iron Age graves found in the last 35 years. The man who found the site was working for David Wilson Homes at the Pavilion Square development. Once the excavation began, the archaeologists found a haul of Iron Age objects such as swords, shields, and spears. Additionally, there were over 360 amber and glass beads, brooches, and ancient pots.

One of the spokesmen at the site said that a majority of the objects found had been well-preserved. A few were slightly damaged, having been victim to the soil conditions and plowing in the area.

One of the major studies that will be conducted after the bodies are excavated is whether or not those people were indigenous to the area or migrants from the European continent. Further analysis will discover how those people at the site died, what stresses their bodies had been under during their lives, and whether the groups were related to each other or not. The findings suggest that there had been women and children among the men.

Source:MAP archaeology practice
Source:MAP archaeology practice

Paula Ware, the managing director at MAP Archaeological Practice, said that the eastern part of Yorkshire had the largest groups of the Arras Culture; finding this mass grave will expand knowledge of that history. She added that finding these skeletons will shed new light on the rituals of Iron Age burials. She explained that the shields and swords included in the burial would suggest that the members in the grave would have had a higher rank in society; by studying that a little more in depth they can perhaps better support that theory.

She said that if house developers work with archaeologists like this company has, both groups can make more discoveries such as this one. Groups like these can work on revealing more hidden treasures and history. Peter Morris, the development director at David Wilson Homes, said that the findings at that site are of national significance.

With this find, archaeologists will be able to shape the understanding of the Arras Culture and the Iron Age as a whole. At this time, both teams are still in the early stages of analysis. However, the discovery reflects the importance of co-operation on an international level.

Source:MAP archaeology practice
Source:MAP archaeology practice


Could it be that this group of people was under attack? How did the women and children come into play? Hopefully, the archaeologists working on this site can take other studies and grave sites into consideration when studying this one. Although there is much to learn about the culture, they are getting closer to making a breakthrough. It will be exciting to hear about that once they do further analysis.

Follow the link to view photos from the dig. Items photographed include a small brooch, the small glass beads, and one of the many spears.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News