A 4,400-year-old female skeleton adorned with some of Britain's earliest gold jewels has emerged from a quarry not far from Windsor Castle. According to Wessex Archaeology, who has been digging there since 2003, an "extensive prehistoric landscape" is still buried beneath the site, known as Kingsmead Quarry, and its surrounding areas on the edge of West London and East Berkshire.
This computer-generated image shows how the woman would have been buried. Laying in a crouched position, with the head facing south, the Copper Age woman had a large drinking vessel placed by her hip.
The pottery, known to archaeologists as a beaker, is decorated with a comb-like stamp. It links the burial to communities which lived across Europe at around 2,500 B.C.
Experts dated the burial to the Copper Age, between 2,200 and 2,500 B.C. -- just a century or two after the construction of Stonehenge, which stands about 60 miles to the southwest.
The woman, aged at least 35 at the time of the burial, wore a necklace of tubular sheet gold beads and black disks of lignite. In a row along the body, the archaeologists found a number of pierced amber beads, possibly buttons for her long-vanished woven wool clothes.
Lead isotope analysis suggest that the gold used in the jewelry probably came from deposits located in southeast Ireland and southern Britain. It's likely the lignite beads came from the east of England, while the amber may have come from the Baltic.
Dubbed by the British media "the first queen of Windsor," the Copper Age woman predates Windsor's royal connection by about 3,500 years. Windsor Castle (shown here) has been associated with the British royal family since the time of Henry I (1068 – 1135).