<p><strong>The skeleton of a young Christian noblewoman, who was laid to rest on a "burial bed" some 1,400 years ago, is giving archaeologists precious clues to the earliest days of the English church.</strong></p><p>Unearthed in 2011 in a village near <a href="http://maps.nationalgeographic.com/map-machine#s=r&amp;c=52.200873717332186,%200.4257202148437489&amp;z=8">Cambridge (map)</a>, the teenager wore the badge of her faith in the shape of an exquisite gold-and-garnet cross, found on her chest and just visible in the picture above.</p><p>The ornate treasure marks the grave as one of the earliest known Christian burials in Anglo-Saxon England, researchers from the <a href="http://www.cam.ac.uk/">University of Cambridge</a> announced last week.</p><p>(Also see <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/09/photogalleries/anglo-saxon-gold-hoard-pictures/">"Gold Hoard Pictures: Largest Anglo-Saxon Treasure Found."</a>)</p><p>Christians previously lived and died in Britain under Roman rule. But the newfound grave dates to the mid-seventh century, when Anglo-Saxons—the Germanic peoples who founded the English nation and language—were starting to convert to Christianity. (See more <a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/england-photos/">England photos</a>.)</p><p>In addition, the wooden burial bed on which the 16-year-old was placed is one of only a handful of such finds discovered in Britain, the team says.</p><p><em>—James Owen</em></p>

Sleeping Beauty

The skeleton of a young Christian noblewoman, who was laid to rest on a "burial bed" some 1,400 years ago, is giving archaeologists precious clues to the earliest days of the English church.

Unearthed in 2011 in a village near Cambridge (map), the teenager wore the badge of her faith in the shape of an exquisite gold-and-garnet cross, found on her chest and just visible in the picture above.

The ornate treasure marks the grave as one of the earliest known Christian burials in Anglo-Saxon England, researchers from the University of Cambridge announced last week.

(Also see "Gold Hoard Pictures: Largest Anglo-Saxon Treasure Found.")

Christians previously lived and died in Britain under Roman rule. But the newfound grave dates to the mid-seventh century, when Anglo-Saxons—the Germanic peoples who founded the English nation and language—were starting to convert to Christianity. (See more England photos.)

In addition, the wooden burial bed on which the 16-year-old was placed is one of only a handful of such finds discovered in Britain, the team says.

—James Owen

Photograph courtesy University of Cambridge

Photos: Bejeweled Anglo-Saxon Found in Christian "Burial Bed"

A young woman buried with an exquisite gold-and-garnet cross is offering clues to the earliest days of the English church, scientists say.

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