Treasures of London – The Sutton Hoo ship burial

December 4, 2010

Now housed in the British Museum (pictured), the artefacts discovered in a ship burial at Sutton Hoo near Woodbridge in Suffolk helped to shed new light on what life was like in Anglo-Saxon society.

The excavation at the Sutton Hoo site was carried out in 1939, just before World War II.  The finds were impressive and centred on a 27 metre long oak ship in the midst of which was constructed a burial chamber for a man of some significance along with his possessions.

The latter included his armour (the centrepiece of which is the spectacular and painstakingly reconstructed Sutton Hoo helmet complete with face mask), weapons such as a sword and spears, silverware and silver-mounted drinking horns and cups, clothes and other assorted items of wealth, including a purse with a ‘lid’ containing, among other things, Merovingian gold coins struck believed to have been struck between 595 and 640 AD.

While the remains found date to around the early seventh century, the man’s exact identity remains something of a mystery. But it is possible he may have been one of four Anglo-Saxon kings known to have been buried in the area.

WHERE: Room 41 at the British Museum, Great Russell Street (nearest tube is Tottenham Court Road, Holborn or Russell Square); WHEN: 10.30am-5.3opm daily; COST: Entry to the museum is free; WEBSITE: www.britishmuseum.org. (For more information on visiting the Sutton Hoo site in Suffolk, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-suttonhoo)

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