Roman and Anglo-Saxon remains found in Leeds could chart lost period of British history

An ancient lead coffin unearthed in a previously undiscovered, 1,600-year-old Leeds cemetery may help show the links between Roman and Anglo-Saxon Britain.

The once-in-a-lifetime find, thought to contain the remains of a late-Roman aristocratic woman, was discovered as part of an archaeological dig near Garforth, which also revealed the remains of more than 60 men, women, and children who lived in the area more than a thousand years ago.

Those buried with her in the cemetery are believed to include both late-Roman and early-Saxon people, with the burial customs of both cultures found in different graves.

Archaeologists hope this means the site can help them chart the largely undocumented and hugely important transition between the fall of the Roman Empire in around 400AD and the establishment of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms which followed.

Now the dig is complete, expert analysis of the remains will take place, including carbon dating to establish precise timeframes as well as detailed chemical tests which can determine extraordinary details such as individual diets and ancestry.

The discovery was made last spring but could only be revealed this year because of the need to keep the site safe.

Kylie Buxton, on-site supervisor for the excavations, said: "It is every archaeologist's dream to work on a 'once in a lifetime' site, and supervising these excavations is definitely a career-high for me.

"There is always a chance of finding burials, but to have discovered a cemetery of such significance, at such a time of transition, was quite unbelievable."