Scientists liken Anglo-Saxon burial site to King Tut's tomb

Find was made during excavations in 2003

Find was made during excavations in 2003

Among them was a lyre and a 1,400-year-old box thought to be the only surviving example of painted Anglo-Saxon woodwork in Britain.

Workmen unearthed the grave, which contained human remains and exotic artefacts, during road-widening works in Prittlewell, near Southend, Essex, in 2003.

Gold coins, the gilded silver neck of a wooden drinking vessel, decorative glass beakers and a flagon believed to have come from Syria were also found.

Gold crosses were found placed where the prince's eyes would have been, suggesting he was Christian, but other elements of the tomb point to pre-Christian rituals.

Sophie Jackson, director of research and engagement at Museum of London Archaeology, said the discovery is "our equivalent of Tutankhamun's tomb".

One question experts may never be able to answer is the identity of the man laid to rest at the site, but locals have nicknamed him the "Prittlewell Prince" and have installed a plaque with the moniker where he was buried.

Experts, who excavated the site fully, carbon dated the body and believe the man died between 575AD and 605AD, and could be Seaxa who was the brother of King Saebert who died in 616AD.

Fragments of adult tooth enamel suggest he was over the age of six, and the size of the coffin and placement of items within suggest he was about 5ft 8in. Archaeologists now think the remains are likely those of his brother Seaxa.

"It's between a bit of railway and a bit of road, essentially a verge".

She said: "There's a lot of debate about whether he was a fully-fledged hairy beast Saxon warrior, or younger. It's not where you'd expect to find it", she said.

"Had he died before he could really prove himself?"

The real Tutankhamun was discovered in the Valley of the Kings by a celebrated Egyptologist in an expedition funded by a peer of the realm.

Painstaking excavation of the site at Prittlewell near Southend-on-sea has revealed a trove of artefacts providing an unrivalled snapshot of Anglo-Saxon England at the end of the pagan era.

"There hasn't been anything like it, [it's] nationally and internationally important", said Liz Barham, a senior conservator from the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), who worked on the dig.