Page last updated at 12:43 GMT, Monday, 17 March 2008

Bronze Age burial 'with beer mug'

Bronze Age skeleton
The skeleton was "crouched" which was typical of the time

A 4,000-year-old Bronze Age skeleton has been unearthed by archaeologists working on a site in east Kent.

Canterbury Archaeological Trust said the curled-up skeleton was an example of a "Beaker" burial because of the pottery vessel placed at its feet.

Education officer Marion Green said the "beautifully decorated" pot could have been "a type of beer mug".

She said tests on beakers from other sites suggested Bronze Age man was brewing a type of beer from grain.

The body was in a "crouched" position typical of the period, with knees drawn up to the chest, she added.

Possibly ceremonial objects were found buried with the individual, who could have been a high-status male, she said.

The bones were found in a small grave at the centre of a double ring ditch, made out of two circles.

And Ms Green said soil would have been built up to form a burial mound, known to archaeologists as a "barrow".

Double ring ditch
The small grave was in a double ring ditch made of two circles

The bones, which are expected to end up on display, have been removed for tests to confirm the skeleton's age and gender, and any disease or injury.

"People might think finding skeletons is spooky, but it is really awe inspiring," Ms Green said.

"It's when you literally come face to face with the people from the past.

The 91-hectare site near Monkton being excavated by 30 archaeologists will eventually house seven glasshouses for salad producer Thanet Earth.

Ms Green said Bronze Age burials were the oldest remains the archaeologists had found so far, but the history of the site was taking shape, and seemed to have had a "very long farming tradition".

Other burials have been found there, but this was the most elaborate, she added.

Archaeologists are excavating and recording finds on areas to be developed, but the remainder is to be left undisturbed.

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The 4,000-year-old skeleton unearthed in Thanet


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