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Has the mystery of the Montem mound finally been solved?

Josh Browne

Reporter:

Josh Browne

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A 20-foot high hill in the centre of Slough is actually a rare Anglo-Saxon monument built 1,500 years ago, archaeologists believe.

A team from the University of Reading say the Montem Mound, outside the leisure centre, dates roughly to the same time as famous burial mounds such as Sutton Hoo in Suffolk – between the 5th and 7th centuries.

It was previously thought to be an early Norman castle earthwork, called a motte, but experts now think it is likely to mark the resting place of someone of high status and could contain artefacts.

Dr Jim Leary, who led the investigation, said: “This is a time of heroic myth and legend where archaeology fills the gaps of the historic record.

“We tested material from all through the mound, so we are confident it dates to the Saxon period. Given the dates of the mound, its size and dimensions, and the proximity to the known richly-furnished Saxon barrow at Taplow, it seems most likely Montem Mound is a prestigious Saxon burial mound.”

The archaeologist described the importance of the find: “This discovery will add so much more to our understanding of the people who lived in Britain at this time.”

He added: “It will also extend our knowledge of the history of Slough.”

The mound is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, which will protect it from development.

Slough Borough Council manages it as a historical feature and part of its parks and open space services.

The council is preparing an enhancement scheme which will include an interpretation board so people can understand its importance.

Between the 16th and 19th centuries the Montem Mound was used for annual festivities by Eton College.

A Leverhulme Trust-funded project called the Round Mounds project led to the new discovery.

The project is drilling into and dating mottes in England for the first time, enabling vital information to be gathered while causing minimal harm to the archaeological sites.

The team will next be drilling at Forbury Hill, near Reading Abbey.

Details of the project and updates can be found at https://roundmoundsproject.wordpress.com.

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