Researchers Reconstruct Face Of Anglo-Saxon Teenage Girl Buried With Rare Gold Cross
Jordi Salas via Getty Images

Researchers have revealed what the face of an Anglo-Saxon teenage girl who died more than 1,300 years ago looked like, according to a report from the University of Cambridge. 

The 16-year-old girl was buried in Trumpington, England, in a bed burial, one of only 18 cases found in the United Kingdom. It’s believed that she was a member of the aristocracy or may even have a royal background, according to researchers. Using skull analysis, researchers have now revealed what she may have looked like. 

“It was interesting to see her face developing,” Hew Morrison, the forensic artist who worked on the reconstruction, said. “Her left eye was slightly lower, about half a centimeter, than her right eye. This would have been quite noticeable in life.”

Using skull measurements and tissue depth data for Caucasian females, Morrison was able to reconstruct her face, according to the university report. Morrison says without DNA analysis, he wasn’t sure of her hair and eye color, although the image is a “strong indication” of what she looked like before her death, the university notes. 

Archeologists discovered the burial a decade ago in Trumpington, located roughly 60 miles north of London, and dated the grave to the mid-7th Century. The girl was buried on a wooden bed with an “ornate” gold and garnet cross on her chest — believed to be one of only five crosses like that found in Britain. She also had a gold chain with two gold pins on her neck, which may have been connected to a veil of fine linen, according to the BBC.  

The cross is known as the “Trumpington Cross,” and researchers say it signifies that she may have been of England’s earliest converts to Christianity. A similar cross was found in the coffin of St. Cuthbert, known as “northern England’s most popular saint,” Oxford Dictionary of Saints notes

“She must have known that she was important and she had to carry that on her shoulders,” Dr. Sam Leggett, a bioarcheologist who worked on the analysis of the bones and teeth of the girl, said. 


Through an isotopic analysis of her bones and teeth, researchers believe the girl moved from the Alps, possibly near southern Germany, to England after the age of seven, based on her diet. They noticed that the amount of protein she consumed decreased shortly before her death. Legget says that her diet would have been higher in meat and dairy in Germany, but her exact cause of death is still unknown. 

“She was probably quite unwell and she traveled a long way to somewhere completely unfamiliar – even the food was different,” Leggett said. “It must have been scary.”

The image of the girl will go on display Wednesday until April 2024 in an exhibit called “Beneath Our Feet: Archaeology of the Cambridge Region” at the University of Cambridge. The Trumpington Cross and the decorative headboard of the burial bed will also go on display, the BBC notes. 

“She’s a wonderful example of bringing the past to life,” Leggett told the outlet. 

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Researchers Reconstruct Face Of Anglo-Saxon Teenage Girl Buried With Rare Gold Cross