Gold beads found in a rare Beaker grave found during excavations at Kingsmead Quarry, Horton, Berkshire, have now been declared as Treasure by H.M. Coroner. The beads were discovered in 2011 in a small grave and may have formed part of a necklace. Other grave goods also found with the gold beads were a number of amber and jet/shale beads, a Beaker vessel and the poorly preserved bones of an adult, possibly a woman.
These items are more than 4000 years old and the gold beads are composed of more than 10% precious metal, and therefore considered as ‘Treasure’ under the terms of the Treasure Act 1996.
The Beaker burial is without close parallel in Britain. Each of the five ornaments comprises a strip of thin sheet gold rolled to form a tubular ‘bead’. Only small numbers of Beaker graves, both in Britain and continental Europe, contain gold ornaments and tubular beads of this sort are rare. Further examples are known in copper or bronze, but again they are far from common finds. The indications are that Kingsmead Quarry is an Early Beaker context making the ornaments some of the earliest goldwork from Britain.
Now declared as treasure, the gold objects will be inspected at the British Museum before returning to the Windsor & Royal Borough Museum for display.
The inquest was attended by Wessex Archaeology Project Manager Gareth Chaffey and CEMEX UK archaeological consultant Adrian Havercroft (The Guildhouse Consultancy).
By Gareth Chaffey