More Anglo-Saxon warlords may be buried around Maidenhead and Marlow

More early medieval warlords may be buried around Maidenhead and Marlow following the discovery of the ‘Marlow Warlord’ in the summer.

Anglo-Saxon warriors like the one discovered near Marlow earlier this year may well be buried under our feet, according to archaeologists.

The 1,400-year-old remains of a six-foot warrior, dubbed the ‘Marlow Warlord’, were discovered by metal detectorists and unearthed by archaeologists in August, completely changing the way experts think about the history of the Maidenhead and Marlow area of the Thames Valley.

It had previously been thought that this section of river was a borderland of no real historical importance, but according to Dr Gabor Thomas, associate professor of archaeology at the University of Reading, the discovery of the Marlow Warlord may signify that there are others like him buried in the area.

He said: “There probably are others that we don’t know about.

“Before kingdoms had fully emerged, the local power structures were between tribes, and he [The Marlow Warlord] is a leader of a local tribe.”

“There has definitely been a change in the impression of this part of the Thames. This reminds us that no matter what stretch of the Thames we look at, it’s of major importance.

“Power naturally gravitated to the Thames, this stretch is no less important than what we see further up in Oxford or as far down as London.”

Despite being dubbed the ‘Marlow’ warlord, the sixth-century warrior, estimated to be around 30 or 40 years old when he was buried, was actually uncovered on the Berkshire side of the river, upon a hill with views of the Buckinghamshire town.

According to Dr Thomas, the true location of the find has not been revealed at the request of the landowner.

He said: “We had to keep the site anonymous. You can get nighthawks (people who steal from archaeological sites) and unwanted attention.

“So we agreed we wouldn’t name it after where it was found. Marlow is the nearest reasonably-sized town.”

The majority of the artefacts that were found alongside the warlord, including an iron sword, spearheads and bronze bowls, are set to eventually go on display at the Bucks County Museum in Aylesbury, but before lockdown took hold, it was also agreed that some items would go on temporary display at the Maidenhead Heritage Centre.

Plans for the artefacts are now completely up in the air thanks to the pandemic, but Dr Thomas said he hoped that some of them could still go on display at the Park Street museum.

He said: “I hope, whether it’s next year or beyond, to have some kind of local temporary exhibition that celebrates this burial somewhere local to the region. It’s something we’d really like to do.”

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