Monument record MCC6977 - Kelvedon Iron Age Warrior


Grave goods from an Iron Age warrior burial.


Grid reference Centred TL 8718 1779 (178m by 176m)
Map sheet TL81NE


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

Grave goods from an Iron Age warrior burial, comprising: one iron sword, `ritually' bent and originally wrapped in cloth, the remains of the cloth only survive as a mineralised fragment attached to the sword; one iron shield boss; two spearheads, one with a ferrule; one scabbard; one bronze sword; one large bronze bowl; complete set of bronze fittings from a tankard; two pedestal urns and fragments possibly from a third urn; and fittings from a wooden structure. The finds came from a pit c2m x 2m, 1.4m below the ground surface. <1>

The Kelvedon warrior was buried c75-25 BC on a slope overlooking a late Iron Age village in north-east Essex. The village lay on the edge of the territory occupied by the Trinovantes in the mid 1st century BC. Acidic soil conditions had destroyed any human remains, but the size of the grave pit suggests an inhumation. The armaments included an iron sword that had been wrapped in linen and bent at the funeral, a bronze scabbard decorated (uniquely) with a strip of applied tin, an iron shield boss, and an iron spear blade — also bent at the funeral - with ferrule. The other grave goods were a tankard with copper-alloy fittings, a bronze bowl from the Roman world, iron fittings from a plank-built wooden structure (but which was not a coffin), and two Aylesford-Swarling pedestal urns. A single pot had been buried in an adjacent pit. This presumably represents a satellite grave. The spear and shield boss from the warrior burial are of continental type and show he was in touch with developments in weaponry on the European mainland. Fighting by warriors equipped with a panoply of sword, spear and shield developed on the mainland of Europe in the 3rd century BC. There was a significant timelag before its adoption in Britain: graves with such a combination of weaponry are not attested until the 1st century BC, at Owslebury and Kelvedon. In Britain as in north-west Gaul, such warriors fought alongside a numerically greater corps of spear warriors. <2>

The Keveldon warrior is a nationally important find. No written details were recorded during initial excavation in 1988. In 2006 Paul Sealy interviewed the landowners who witnessed the excavation and made a re-assessment of the grave finds, which inlcuded pottery and weaponary of a continental type. <3>

Sources/Archives (3)

  • <1> DESC TEXT: Going, CJ via Turner, C. unknown. SMR.
  • <2> DESC TEXT: Sealey, Dr Paul R. 2004. A Note on the Late Iron Age warrior burial from Kelvedon.
  • <3> DESC TEXT: Sealey, Dr Paul R. 2007. EAA 118 - A late Iron Age warrior burial from Kelvedon, Essex.

Finds (10)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

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Related Events/Activities (0)

Record last edited

Nov 3 2015 11:41AM

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