Memories: 2,000-year-old grave and treasure unearthed in Welwyn Garden City

PUBLISHED: 11:00 22 April 2018

Archeologists excavating the site in 1965.

Archeologists excavating the site in 1965.

Archant

It’s a local reporter’s dream – workmen randomly uncover a 2,000-year-old grave in WGC, festooned with treasure and thought to belong to an ancient prince.

The site off Black Fan Road being covered with a tarpaulin in 1965. The site off Black Fan Road being covered with a tarpaulin in 1965.

But in April 1965, that was exactly what happened.

First inkling of the jackpot find came when workmen – who were laying the gas works for a new housing estate on land off Black Fan Road – unearthed “big chunks of wine jars”, following which the grave was found.

There was no body, but archeologists later uncovered a shallow bronze basin, at least a foot in diameter, which had two circular, movable handles, a spout and a removable strainer.

Its pierced holes were arranged in a Celtic pattern, and was said to be in “beautiful condition, and shone as bright as gold”.

Archeologists excavating the site in 1965. Archeologists excavating the site in 1965.

There was also a group of great wine jars known as amphoras, all undamaged, along with a beautiful silver cup, pedestal jars and platters.

A top archeologist at the time placed the date of the grave at between 50 BC and 50 AD, and said it must be that of a noblemen or prince of the Belgae because of its rich contents.

The Belgic people were Celts and a large Gaulish confederation of tribes, which are thought to have made their way into southern Britain at around 100 BC.

Other graves had been found nearby in WGC, which contained nothing but cinerary urns, but the Belgae used to cremate their dead and bury the ashes in those same urns.

Queen Boudica, who was a British Celt, is famous for sacking Roman cities of London, Colchester and Verulamium (St Albans), in 61 AD.

However, the Welwyn Times and Hatfield Herald reported that latest evidence showed the Black Fan Road grave was made before her time.

With Welwyn Hatfield Council’s Local Plan afoot, current WHT reporters will be keeping a weather eye on building sites with their fingers crossed for something similar!

In more familiar news, motorists who travelled between Codicote and Old Welwyn in April 1965 were forced to navigate potholes that were reportedly more than two feet deep.

A council spokesman at the time said: “Whether it is caused by bad workmanship or by whatever reason, a long period of rain will always bring it out.”

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