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British archaeologists have unearthed the remains of what might be the first queen of Windsor in a 4,400-year-old female skeleton adorned with some of Britain’s earliest gold jewels. The find could predate Windsor’s royal connection by more than three millennia. Archaeologists discovered the remains at Kingsmead Quarry, not far from Windsor Castle, which, since the time of Henry I (1068 – 1135), has been associated with British royals.
The burial was dated to the Copper Age, between 2,200 and 2,500 B.C. — just a century or two after the construction of Stonehenge, which stands about 60 miles to the south-west.
The bones, which were almost destroyed by the acidic soil around the grave, indicate the individual was a woman aged at least 35. At the time of her burial she wore a necklace of tubular sheet gold beads and black disks of lignite (a form of coal).
In a row along the body, the archaeologists found a number of pierced amber beads, possibly buttons for her long-vanished woven wool clothes. A number of black beads found near her hand suggest she wore a bracelet.
Interestingly, a large drinking vessel lay by the woman’s hip. Decorated with a comb-like stamp, the fine pottery, known to archaeologist as a beaker, linked the burial to communities which lived across Europe at around 2,500 B.C.
According to the archaeologists in charge of the excavation, Gareth Chaffey of Wessex Archaeology, the woman was probably “an important person in her society, perhaps holding some standing which gave her access to prestigious, rare and exotic items.” “She could have been a leader, a person with power and authority, or possibly part of an elite family — perhaps a princess or queen,” Chaffey said. According to Wessex Archaeology, an “extensive prehistoric landscape” is still buried beneath the quarry and surrounding areas on the edge of West London and East Berkshire.