A woman who woke up on 28th August 2019 to find a strange man digging in her back garden was surprised to hear that she has been sitting for many years on the greatest Anglo-Saxon treasure ever to have been discovered in Dorset.
Mrs Priti Luckie of 28 Aedbald Road, Charleton Marshall bought the property more than 40 years ago but had no idea that a huge ship and numerous invaluable artefacts had been included in the sale. "I have rechecked the particulars carefully", she said, "and though they are very specific about a lot of things, including a small damp patch in the scullery, there was absolutely no mention of a burial chamber or of a 70 foot ship buried in the garden. We noticed some kind of mound but assumed it was either an unusually large molehill or the remnants of an Anderson shelter."
It was amateur local archeologist and Indiana Jones lookalike Basil Bone who first suspected the existence of the longboat and its associated hoard but his previous attempts to gain access to the property had been thwarted by Mrs Luckie's refusal to disturb her petunias. So it was out of sheer frustration that he decided to excavate in secret at night, coving over his work each morning before departing the premises. On 29th August, he was undone by an unfortunate concatenation of circumstances: a slow running watch, a particularly bright and sunny morning and Mrs Luckie's decision to bring forward by an hour her daily Tai-chi routine. "Caught napping", he was forced to admit to his nocturnal exhumations and to "come clean" about his endeavours.
Thereafter, the Dorset Archeological Commission together with experts from the University of Afpuddle's specialist Anglo-Saxon Excavations Department insisted on completing the work and taking full credit for it. "As professionals who know how these things should be done, we were much better equipped to complete the excavation, preservation, investigation and authentication of any finds", Professor Mona Lith said recently. "We are scrupulously exact in our work and do everything with absolute precision".
Asked whether this precision had been in evidence when the Department's transit van accidentally ran over a priceless helmet uncovered in pristine condition by Mr Bone as it was being readied for transport to the University of Afpuddle's laboratories, Professor Lith claimed an urgent appointment with a radio-carbon dater.
Though we know relatively little about the society which produced the Aedbald Road finds, experts believe that it was considerably more sophisticated than previously thought. [see Professor Brian Thrupiece  "Illuminating the Dark Ages: Early Adventures in Anglo-Saxon Discovery No 3: The Incandescent Light Bulb" [Threadbone Archeology Series II [The University of Afpuddle / Threadbone Press]. Those still examining the finds will be hoping for further insights into the life and times of some of our earliest recognisable native ancestors and will be looking in particular for confirmation that they were bipedal, relatively dextrous [ie they had opposing thumbs] and could knit a decent fisherman's crew-neck sweater. Some encouragement has already been given in the form of a comparative likeness between the image engraved on the magnificent helmet and the physiognomy of a "modern" Dorset man. "The uncanny fit together with the distinctive moustache motif suggest a line of direct descent from the unknown warrior to our own Professor Thrupiece - an exciting piece of ancestry on which much more work needs to be done", commented the University of Afpuddle's Lead Mediaeval Demographer, Dr Anne Sestry. "Who knows, they may even have a had at least a rudimentary understanding of Culinary Bio-Ethics - there's certainly absolutely no evidence of monosodium glutamate in the muesli bowls found on site".
From our Film and Media Correspondent Todd Ayo:
Hot on the heels of news of the Charleton Marshall discovery, thrupiecefilm in association with THREADFLIX has already begun production on a fictionalised account of the discovery to be entitled "The Big Boat in the Garden". Directed by I-Bury de Shippe and introducing Sutton Hoo-de'Hell, it will star Ralph Archeological-Finds as Basil Bone and Kiera Whisky-McNightly as Mrs Luckie. The producer - for Bloody-Big-Boat Films - is Mrs Amanda J. Threadbone.