Archaeologists working at an Anglo-Saxon excavation site in Lincolnshire, England, have made one of the most important discoveries in decades.

The researchers have uncovered the remains of an Anglo-Saxon island that was once home to a Middle Saxon settlement. The site is situated at Little Carlton, near Louth in Lincolnshire.

UK Archaeologists Discover Anglo-Saxon "Island"

Anglo-Saxon site discovered by metal detection expert

A team of scientists from the University of Sheffield reported the find, and they believe that further excavation work will reveal more fascinating details about the settlement. They think that it may have been a trading center or monastic site.

Graham Vickers, a local metal detection expert, is credited with discovering the site. He reported finding a silver stylus to the Lincolnshire Finds Liaison Officer (FLO), Dr Adam Daubney.

Vickers reported the find under the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which encourages members of the public to report any archaeological objects found in England and Wales. The silver stylus was found in a plowed field, and is an ornate writing tool thought to have been used in the 8th century.

Scientists from University of Sheffield hail discovery

After hearing about the stylus scientists decided to investigate the site, before finding a significant settlement. A large number of artifacts have since been discovered, including 21 styli, approximately 300 dress pins, and a massive amount of ‘Sceattas’, coins from the 7th-8th centuries. Other items include a small lead tablet engraved with “Cudberg,” an Anglo-Saxon female name.

Following the finds Dr. Hugh Willmott and Pete Townend, a doctoral student from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology, went to the site to carry out surveys and 3D-modelling.

“Our findings have demonstrated that this is a site of international importance, but its discovery and initial interpretation has only been possible through engaging with a responsible local metal detectorist who reported their finds to the Portable Antiquities Scheme,” said Dr. Wilmott.

Site suggests trade network spanned North Sea

Wilmott said that the site was “particularly unusual” due to the objects discovered. The presence of trade weights and other artifacts point to the fact that the settlement may have been a “high-status trading site and not an ordinary village.”

There are now 9 evaluation trenches at the site, which have allowed archaeology students to discover a “a wealth of information about what life would have been like at the settlement”, Dr Wilmott said. They even used technology to digitally raise the water level of the island, and found that it would have been situated between a basin and a ditch.

There were even pieces of German pottery discovered at the Anglo-Saxon site, which shows that “far from being very isolated in the early medieval period, Lincolnshire was actually connected in a much wider world network, with trade spanning the whole of the North Sea,” he said.

Given the fact that very few Middle Saxon documents exist, finds such as these are vital to improve our understanding of the early medieval period. Wilmott praised Vickers for reporting his find, which led to the discovery of a site of international importance.

While not everyone wanders around plowed fields with a metal detector, the story goes to show that if you do find something interesting it might be a sign of an even bigger discovery. Amateur treasure hunters should always report any artifacts to the authorities. You never know, you could be credited with a major archaeological find.