A recent exhibition by Southend’s archaeological museum of an Anglo-Saxon grave, enthusiastically dubbed the British equivalent of Tutankhamun’s chamber of treasures, has forced historians to awkwardly explain that people should expect more rotted drinking horns than golden chariots.
Simon Williams, the curator of the Anglo-Saxon section at the British Museum, told the press that the comparison with the world famous Ancient Egyptian tomb might be less a true reflection of discovery and more a consequence of ‘being, well, Essex’.
He went on, “Look. Just because they run a museum does not mean they aren’t cut from the same cloth as the Towie mob. Treat the press release like you would the sexual boasts of a man from Basildon.
“Divide any number by 10, know that what has been labelled beautiful is actually a bit rank, and assume the whole thing is rather naff and tragic.
“Did they find a grave with a few belt buckles and a drinking cup? Yes, but to compare that to the greatest find in Egyptology is like saying Southend is a great seaside destination on par with Bali. The grave was found between an Aldi and a pub. By all means go, but don’t get your hopes up.”
The grave in Southend is believed to be from a nobleman in the old Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Essex.
Historical records show the kingdom as a place held in low regards by other parts of England. The Anglo-Saxon chronicle records a warning by Wulfric of Mercia to avoid Essex as it was ‘a heathen land where the thanes wear torques they can’t afford and build garish halls to distract from the fact that they live in a swamp’.