Matching the seven individuals were eight pots. This is the greatest number of people from a single Beaker grave in Britain and it is also the greatest number of Beaker pots from one grave. This is not likely to be a coincidence.
Four of the pots were placed near the head of the articulated burial. Above his face were two pots. Behind his head, and close to the burials of the children, was a matching pair of pots. The smaller pot of the two had been placed inside the larger one.
Parts of one pot lay by the man’s feet but the remainder of it had already been disturbed. The remaining four vessels were all retrieved from the spoil heap. It can only be said that it is likely that they had been placed behind the man.
Seven of the eight pots are decorated all over, six with cord, one with plaited cord. The eighth pot is fragmentary but it too may have been decorated all over this time in horizontal zones with a mixture of cord decoration and combed decoration.
Such a large number of pots decorated in this way is a very unusual find. Plaited cord is an extremely rare form of decoration on Beakers in Britain. It is much more common in continental Europe. One of the very few British finds is in the nearby grave of the Amesbury Archer.
The similarity between the pots in these two graves suggests that they are about the same date. The radiocarbon dates for the Bowmen are not yet available, but on the basis of the dates from the Archer, the Bowmen’s grave is also likely to date to between 2,400-2,200 BC.
The other finds include five barbed and tanged arrowheads - giving the name the Boscombe Bowmen – some other flint tools; scrapers and flakes, a boar’s tusk and a toggle.
In continental Europe tusks are often found in the same grave as stones used for metalworking, like the one found in the grave of the Amesbury Archer. Sometimes the tusks and stones have been found next to each other together. Are the boar’s tusks metalworking tools?
Only one other bone toggle has been found in Britain. It comes from a later, and rich, Bronze Age burial at Barnack, Cambridgeshire. Most toggles have been found in continental Europe. These finds usually have a central perforation rather than a loop. They have mainly been thought of as decorative pendants but they may have fastened clothing or a hair ornament.
Both the decoration of the plaited cord beaker and the bone toggle point towards continental Europe, from where the Amesbury Archer came. Some of the objects buried with him also came from there. But the Boscombe Bowmen came from Britain.