DM

Lonodn

The remains of a 1,400 year-old woman believed to be a pagan which has been uncovered by a metal detector enthusiast.

They were discovered near the Rollright Stones in Warwickshire - a group of ancient monuments that legend has it were created when a witch turned a king and his knights to stone.

An early-Saxon religious utensil called a patera was found with the bones, leading to suggestions of witchcraft. He called the local finds liaison officer, Anni Byard, who arrived the next day to help the group dig deeper. Together, they uncovered the skeleton of a petite Saxon woman who was between 4 feet 11 inches and 5ft tall (1.5 meters) and has been dubbed Rita.

It’s been playfully suggested she might be the Rollright witch in the legend, although the dates don’t quite match because the stones are neolithic, making them over a thousand years older. Mr Wood said he had not been expecting to find much in the hard ground. ‘I got 14 inches down and a small bronze rim appeared, but it seemed in too good condition to be anything significant.

‘As I dug further though I saw it had a handle and it soon became obvious it was a patera - which is a very significant find. ‘There’s a myth around here of the Rollright Witch, and this find is certainly very interesting because of the spiritual element. ‘I’m not saying anything for sure, but there’s no smoke without fire. ‘It was a once in a lifetime find. I could detect for the next 14 years and not find anything like it.’ ‘As I dug further though I saw it had a handle and it soon became obvious it was a patera - which is a very significant find. ‘There’s a myth around here of the Rollright Witch, and this find is certainly very interesting because of the spiritual element. ‘I’m not saying anything for sure, but there’s no smoke without fire. ‘It was a once in a lifetime find. I could detect for the next 14 years and not find anything like it.’