EXPERTS from Oxford have been called in to investigate the “significant” discovery of a Saxon woman’s 1,400-year-old remains near the Rollright Stones.

The young woman’s skeleton – dubbed ‘Rita of Rollright’ by archaeologists – was found close to the Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments, near Chipping Norton, with smaller items including a bronze ladle and an amethyst mounted in silver.

They were discovered by amateur metal detectorists of the Muddy Boots Metal Detector Club and have been sent to the British Museum in London for detailed study.

Historians and archaeologists from Oxford University have also joined research into the find, believed to be the most significant of its kind since an Anglo-Saxon grave was uncovered in West Hanney in 2009.

Anni Byard, finds liaison officer for Oxfordshire County Council, said she was called to the site at the end of March and on Easter Monday (April 6) a two-day excavation started to recover the 7th Century remains.

Ms Byard said the dig was carried out through the Portable Antiquities Scheme, a partnership between the government and local authorities.

Yesterday she said: “It is a very significant and interesting find.

“This is the kind of burial that does not come up very often and is equally, if not more, important as the find in West Hanney.

“The goods she was buried with are quite rare and as far as we know a bronze Saxon Patera (ladle) that was found may be only the fifth of its kind recorded.”

Ms Byard added that the area the remains were found was considered important by the Saxons, largely because of the presence of the Rollright Stones.

Theories being considered include that the woman held some kind of ceremonial position.

Research into the grave site is being carried out by Ms Byard and Professor Helena Hamerow, of Oxford University’s Institute of Archaeology, with assistance from respected archaeologist George Lambrick, a member of the Rollright Trust.

Mr Lambrick said: “We are very interested in the find because it adds a lot to our knowledge of how important the stones were.”