The team that made the discovery were from Archaeology South-East (ASE), the commercial branch of UCL’s Institute of Archaeology.
ASE archaeologist Jim Stevenson, who is managing the post-excavation investigations into the burial, said: “There has been much discussion generally as to who the people buried in the ‘warrior’ tradition may have been in life.
“Were they really warriors, or just buried with the trappings of one?
“Although the soil conditions destroyed the skeleton, the items discovered within the grave suggest that the occupant had been an important individual.”
The grave dates back to the late Iron Age/early Roman period (first century BC to AD50).
Archaeologists say it is “incredibly rare”, as only a handful are known to exist in the south of England.
X-rays and initial conservation of the sword and scabbard reveal beautiful copper-alloy decoration at the scabbard mouth, which would have been highly visible when the sword was worn in life.
Dotted lines on the X-ray may be the remains of a studded garment worn by the occupant when buried.
This is particularly exciting for the archaeologists, as evidence of clothing rarely survives.
The grave also held the remains of a wooden container, preserved as a dark stain, probably used to lower the individual into the grave.
Four ceramic vessels were placed outside this container, but still within the grave.
The vessels are jars made from local clays and would usually have been used for food preparation, cooking and storage.