Anglo-Saxon Sarcophagus Opened

Archaeologists have now opened a sarcophagus of an Anglo-Saxon person that was discovered on the grounds of Lincoln Castle.

The excavation began last week, and the video footage of its opening was released today. The sarcophagus was discovered earlier this year during works taking place as part of the Lincoln Castle Revealed project.

Mary Powell, programme manager for the Lincoln Castle Revealed project, explained, “The first step was to take a 3D scan of the coffin itself. Then we carefully opened it up to see what was inside. The body appeared to be wearing leather boots or shoes, which was usual for this period. This would suggest that it was someone of importance.

“Finding a sarcophagus from this period that’s still undisturbed is extremely rare, so this discovery is of national significance.

“The next step will be to thoroughly analyse both the sarcophagus and the remains to learn as much as we can from it. This will undoubtedly increase what we know about Saxon Lincoln.”


The stone coffin was found three metres down from today’s ground level in a small area being excavated for the construction of an elevator. As well as the sarcophagus, the archaeologists discovered several other human skeletons were found alongside remains of the church and a stone Roman townhouse, as well as artefacts such as pottery, cooking pots, animal bones, ice skates, and dice made from animal bone and antler.

The first part of the coffin is opened and the Saxon king or bishop appears to be wearing leather boots or shoes - photo courtesy Lincolnshire County Council

Archaeologist Cecily Spall added, “It’s very unusual for archaeologists to encounter a church which hasn’t been detected in historical documents.”

The dig was undertaken as part of the £19.9m Lincoln Castle Revealed project, whichwill create a new centre to house Lincoln’s Magna Carta and access to the castle walls. The project is due to be completed in 2015, and many of the finds from the dig will be put on display.

Archaeologists peer into history and get their first look at what could be the remains of a Saxon king or bishop