I felt safe in the ground, surrounded by our men, battle-ready, armed with sword, spear and shield. Even in death, they guarded me. I lay among them, quietly sleeping, a fine brooch upon my breast, gift of my husband; a disc like the sun, glowing with gold, inlaid with garnet. I was the envy of women, the desire of men, until my body became earth-bound, mingling with soil.
For centuries, I rested, undisturbed by the scratchings of brick-makers whose shovels scraped the clay above my head, thinning the veil that hid me from the world.
Yet no-one found me, encircled by my kin, protected by spells and charms. But magic wears thin with age.
One day, the ground shook: a crashing of giant’s feet, a mighty battle raging overhead. Silence. A tiny pinhole of light. Discovery.
They took my brooch, dug up my bones, prepared me for the dread day of judgement. I lay exposed, my spirit uneasy as they held me in their hands.
Gently they washed me, laid me out, measured me, then packed me in a box and took me to a great hall. Not the meeting-place of my fathers, filled with singing and stories, but a chamber of silence, packed with the dead.
They wheeled me along a great aisle, around a corner, into a passage and laughed as they slid me onto a shelf.
“It’s like Indiana Jones,” one said.
“And the Ark of the Covenant,” replied the other.
In the darkness, I hear the whispering of my kin.
Where are we? Why are we here?
Photograph: An archaeologist excavating one of the Anglo-Saxon graves at The Meads, Sittingbourne. Courtesy of Canterbury Archaeological Trust.