Sutton Hoo

  • Period : Anglo-Saxon (6th and 7th century)
  • Type: Group of burial mounds
  • Address: Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP12 3DJ
  • OS Grid Ref: 169:TM288487
  • Onsite Facilities: Museum; Edwardian house; estate walks
  • National Trust (255 acre estate)

The Burial mounds were been discovered here, but have often robbed, since 1601. An investigation was carried out in 1860, and referred to in the Ipswich Journal. The excavation of the burial ship (above), probably dating from the early 7th century, started in 1938/39 by Basil Brown. Measuring 27m long, and 4.5m at its widest, the Anglo-Saxon ship was placed into the ground sometime around 625 AD - predating the first Viking incursions. The comples may have been for King Raedwald of East Anglia, the fourth bretwalda of England, who died at about the time of the burial.

The most significant artifacts from the site were found in a 6m wooden chamber in the centre of the ship, including a suite of metalwork dress fittings in gold and gems, a ceremonial helmet (replica below), shield and sword, a lyre and many pieces of silver plate from the Eastern Roman Empire.

Although the helmet was crushed when the burial chamber timbers collapsed, enough of it survived to allow for reconstruction of a sophisticated piece of armour, with cheek, neck, and face guards, eye holes that were topped with bushy bronze eyebrows, furrowing into boar’s head terminals. Although the helmet seems to have been influenced by Roman cavalry helmets, its closest parallels lie in 6th – 7th century Sweden and is virtually identical to those found at the Vendel Age burial sites of Vendel and Valsgärde, suggesting very close ties to the royal dynasty of Sweden, the Scylfings of Beowulf.

The picture (below) is of a 'Sandbody' near Mound 5, with timber remains, that could possibly be gallows. In total, the remains of 17 'sandbodies' (so named because after the bodies decayed, little remained but moulds made of sand) were found in shallow graves. All of them had been executed and some had been mutilated.

"They let the earth hold the wealth of the earls, gold in the ground, where still it dwells, as useless to men as it was before"

- Beowulf


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