7th October 2023

For the finale of Wessex Week 2023, the story of a shallow grave will take centre stage.

JEWELLERY, silver and swords will start a journey into Anglo Saxon history. It’ll happen when well-known archaeologist Richard Osgood leads the finale to Wessex Week 2023 in Malmesbury on Saturday October 21.

Richard, an archaeologist and senior historic adviser at the Ministry of Defence, will share the story of the excavation of graves found on land near Tetbury. And – the stories those graves have told – so far…

A metal detectorist, surveying a field with the landowners’ permission, discovered the site. They found various artifacts and informed the appropriate authorities,’ Richard said.

‘That led to us launching Exercise Shallow Grave. There we investigated some of the site and found the remains of individuals, and a child. It became clear that here was a site which was both Roman (43 AD until early 5th Century) and Saxon (410 to 1066 AD).

‘We found two individuals with grave goods including swords, a buckle and beads. It’s clear that someone saw these people as important.

Finale of Wessex Week 2023 - Richard Osgood (centre) with tv presenter Tony Robinson and Tim Taylor, director of Time Team.
Richard Osgood (centre) with TV presenter Tony Robinson and Tim Taylor, director of Time Team.

Revisiting

We intend to revisit the site in 2024. We’ll continue our dig which we know the landowner is keen for us to do. It’s our belief the site could give yield important information about the re-use of a Roman site in the early Saxon period.’

Richard, who grew up in Bradford on Avon and always wanted to be an archaeologist, is also the founder of Operation Nightingale. That supports veterans and serving military people injured in conflict. It allows them to take part in digs as part of their recovery and to aid their wellbeing.

So successful has this project been that Richard has recently released a book about it: ‘Broken Pots Mending Lives: The Archaeology of Operation Nightingale.

It may seem strange that finding remains of people and artifacts could help people. Yet there is something magical that happens around these digs. Veterans and those who still serve can find solace and support in the experience and team work which goes into any dig.’

Richard’s talk

Richard’s talk, The Shallow Grave, will take place in Malmesbury Town Hall on Saturday October 21 from 7pm. At time of writing, there were only 20 tickets available.

This year’s Wessex Week features a series of events that will celebrate the region’s history, culture and art through the centuries. It’s had a particular emphasis on Malmesbury and the Anglo-Saxon period. The events take place in the town between Saturday, October 14 and Saturday, October 21.

Tickets for any of these events are available online via the Wessex Week website https://wessex-week.org

And there are some also available to buy at the Tourist Information Centre based at Malmesbury Town Hall.  Please be aware that some events have already sold out.

Finale of Wessex Week 2023 - Hilt of a Saxon sword
Hilt of a Saxon sword
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