Bowls, Burials and Beowulf - an Anglo-Saxon Warrior re-discovered

Press Release: 05/12/2006

Just over 75 years ago, a grave was discovered at Oliver's Battery, south west of Winchester. The burial contained the remains of an Anglo-Saxon warrior who had been interred with his dagger and spear and - most remarkably - with a magnificent bronze hanging bowl. On Wednesday 13 December at 7.30pm in Winchester Guildhall, local residents and history buffs alike will have the opportunity to hear the first ever public lecture about this fascinating 7th century burial.

As part of its ongoing celebrity lecture series, Winchester City Council's museums service has invited distinguished academic Prof Barbara Yorke from the University of Winchester to tell the story behind the finds. 

Prof Yorke said, "The hanging bowl, found with weapons in a grave at Oliver's Battery in 1931, is a remarkably well-preserved and beautiful artefact that has the potential to reveal much about the history of Winchester and its district in the 7th and early 8th centuries. It evokes not only the heroic world of the epic tale of Beowulf, but also the problematic relations between West Saxons and native British as the former sought to expand their territory to the west."

Cllr Patricia Stallard, Winchester City Council's portfolio holder for culture, heritage and sport, commented, "We are delighted to welcome Barbara Yorke, one of our local experts, to tell the intriguing story of this 1300 year old burial.  We are also grateful to the British Museum for the loan of this magnificent artefact which can be seen for free until 8 January 2006 in the special case just outside the Guildhall Gallery."

This special loan is one of the highlights of the Oliver's Battery community heritage project which is now nearing completion.  This 2½-year partnership between local residents and Winchester Museums was designed to investigate the archaeology and history of the relatively new parish of Oliver's Battery.  It has included a public dig, a re-enactment of the burial during Winchester Open Weekend, as well as in-depth research into the origins and development of the area from earliest times to the present day.

To coincide with the lecture, Winchester's Blue Badge Tourist Guides will be leading a specially researched walk at 10.30am on Saturday 16 December entitled Bowls & Burials in Pagan & Christian Saxon Winchester, starting from the City Museum.

Tickets for the lecture are £5 (concessions £4). Tickets for the walk are £4 (children £1). All are on sale at Winchester Tourist Information Centre at the Guildhall, tel 01962 840 500 or email tourism@winchester.gov.uk