The Sutton Hoo treasure

In 1938 a Suffolk woman called Edith Pretty asked a local archaeologist Basil Brown (no relation unfortunately) to excavate a series of mounds that were on her land. In the spring of the following year, in the prosaically named ‘Mound No. 1’, Brown unearthed the remains of an early anglo-saxon ship burial from around 600-650CE.

No body was found – it, along with all the other organic material, including the actual wood of the ship, is thought to have been eaten away by the acidic soil over the intervening 1300 years. The balance of scholarly opinion believes that this was the grave of Raedwald who was king of East Anglia in the first quarter of the 7th century.

The treasures from in the grave are some of the finest ever found in Britain, illuminating a period often referred to as the ‘Dark Ages’ and showing that it was a time of culture, craftsmanship and international trade.

In my ‘Treasures of the British Museum’ tour (online at or in real life) I discuss some of the objects from Sutton Hoo – and you can see this on the video below.

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