An Anglo-Saxon grave discovered near Cambridge could be one of the earliest examples of Christianity taking over from Paganism, archaeologists said.

The skeleton of a teenage girl was found buried on a wooden bed, with a gold and garnet cross on her chest.

The grave is thought to date from the mid-7th Century AD, when Christianity was beginning to be introduced to the Pagan Anglo-Saxon kings.

It was uncovered at Trumpington Meadows by Cambridge Archaeological Unit.

The cross is only the fifth to be discovered in the UK.

Only 12 other “bed burials” have been found.

However, Alison Dickens, who led the excavation, said the combination of a bed burial – where the body was placed in a wooden frame held together by metal brackets – and a Christian symbol, was “extremely rare”.

“We believe there has only been one other instance of a bed burial and pectoral cross together, at Ixworth in Suffolk,” she said.

The grave of the teenager, who was believed to be about 16 years-old, was one of a cluster of four uncovered at the site south of Cambridge.

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