Princely grave

Rijksmuseum van Oudheden

Rijksmuseum van Oudheden

In 1933, during moorland reclamation work near the Dutch town of Oss, a bronze urn was found. It contained the cremated remains of a deceased person, a curved sword, wood, remnants of clothing and all kinds of rusty clumps. After the latter had been cleaned and restored, they could be recognized as metal rings, horses’ bits, knives and a whetstone. The sword proved to be inlaid with gold.
Because the vessel, a so-called situla, contained such costly objects, it seems safe to assume that this is a grave belonging to a highly placed person, a regional ruler from the Early Iron Age. In this connection, we often speak of a prince. A new round of restoration work and research in the early nineties of the last century yielded extra information. The clumps of rust brought to light another two knives, three fibulae, two horses’ bits and elements of horse trappings.
The urn used to have handles, but these were broken off, reattached, and eventually replaced by a leather handle. Remnants of the latter were found underneath some thin bronze plates that were once fastened onto the vessel. It is obvious from the skeletal remains that they belonged to a man of 40 to 60 years old. The vertebrae, which have been preserved, show deformities resulting from ossification of the spinal column. These kind of deformities can be caused by obesity in combination with little exercise.

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