The Ship Burial at Sutton Hoo
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 Organizing Idea:  The findings at Sutton Hoo validate descriptions and references made in  Beowulf and prove the historical value of this epic poem.
  the ship upon excavation

The Discovery: In 1938, Mrs. E.M. Pretty, a landowner in Suffolk, England, decided to investigate several mounds on her property.  She was aware of eleven mounds but soon discovered that sixteen of these mounds were on her property.  The ensuing excavation led to the discovery of the remnants of a ship.  Various riches were also discovered.
Items found at Sutton Hoo:

    iron stand
    decorated whetstone with shallow bronze saucer
    helmet (see below)
    shield (see below)
    spear heads, ferrules, and angons
    bronze Coptic bowl and bronze hanging bowl
    other hanging bowls
    harp (see below)
    seven drinking horns
    great silver dish (see below) and other silver dishes
    small, plain cup, decorated ladle, spoons (see photograph and related story below)
    bronze cauldrons
    mail coat, which was thoroughly rusted and could not be restored
    iron axe
    sword (see below)
    pottery bottle and drinking gourds
    great buckle
    jeweled clasps (see below)
    other jewelry

             a jeweled clasp                                             bronze bowl, spearheads, and argons upon excavation  



The Ship Burial:  As displayed in Beowulf, a ship burial was the final grand event for a prominent person.  In this pagan ritual, the status of the deceased person determined the opulence of the ceremony.

                                                    an artist's interpretation of the ceremony


 The King:  Raedwald, a king of East Anglia who died about 625, is believed to be buried in the Sutton Hoo Ship.  Supposedly, this particular ship was dragged one-third mile from the nearby Deben River.
the harp

English-Scandinavian Connection:  The objects found at Sutton Hoo exhibit a very unique style.  At the time of the Sutton Hoo burial, this style was virtually extinct in most parts of the world.  Parts of England and Scandinavia were the only areas continuing to use these these styles.  This fact proves that trade existed between England and Scandinavia.
                                                                the great silver dish


    There remains a mystery surrounding the silver spoons found at Sutton Hoo.  Ship burial was a
    traditional pagan ritual, and most items found at Sutton Hoo exhibited Scandinavian or Anglican
    characteristics.  However, these spoons were inscribed with the words Savlos and Pavlos.  These
    inscriptions read Saul and Paul when translated from the Greek. The mysterious silver spoons
    demonstrate a Christian and Eastern influence that is not present in the other findings.
                                                                the mysterious silver spoons


Beowulf Connection: Many descriptions in Beowulf were misunderstood until the retrieval of the Sutton Hoo artifacts.  Beowulf also provides readers with a glimpse into the history of the early eighth century.  The evidence found at Sutton Hoo supports the disputed wealth of Anglo-Saxon kings.

          the sword                                                                                       the shield



Interesting Sutton Hoo and Anglo-Saxon Sites:
Sutton Hoo
Eastern Counties Network
Angelcynn: Anglo-Saxon Living History 400-900AD
Other student sites:
 The Sutton Hoo Room
Sutton Hoo: Time Capsule of the Anglo- Saxons
Sutton Who? Sutton Hoo: An Anglo-Saxon Ship Burial
Old English Pages: Art and Artifacts

Donaldson, E. Talbot.  Beowulf. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1996.
Green, Charles. Sutton Hoo: The Excavation of a Royal Ship Burial.  London: Camelot Press, Ltd. 1963: plates II, XI, XVI,
Grohskopf, Bernice.  The Treasure of Sutton Hoo: Ship Burial for an Anglo-Saxon King.  New York: Atheneum, 1973

WWW Information and Images:
Graphic Maps, http://www.graphicmaps.com
The Sutton Hoo Home Page, http://csis.pace.edu/grendel/projs4a/sutton.htm. 01-jan-91