Sutton Hoo

I’m jumping ahead to next week’s topic of mounds. I’ve always been particularly interested in British history, and the Sutton Hoo discovery is a relatively recent, but very significant find. Located in the English county of Suffolk, the mounds were initially excavated in 1939. The woman who owned the land asked for the mounds on her property to be investigated. The first excavations were performed by Basil Brown from a nearby museum, and his findings would end up being one of the most important sources of information on British history in the 6th and 7th centuries. This era was after the Romans had left Britain and Germanic tribes moved to the country.

Uncovered from the first mound were the remains of a wooden ship that was ninety feet long. In addition to the ship, a large number of artifacts were found. These included a finely crafted helmet, weapons, jewelry, and other valuable items. There was also the remnants of clothing and something that experts believe to be a game set. Some of the items have been recognized as being from the Byzantine Empire, the Greek Empire, and the Vikings of the North. This is evidence that the Germanic people were connected with the rest of the world. The quality of the artifacts found in the ship burial led experts to think that this was the burial site of one of the Germanic Kings.

In addition to the first mound, there are sixteen other mounds that have been excavated and studied. Another ship was found in one of the mounds, as well as other artifacts. Other mounds revealed more than artifacts. A skeleton was found in mound 17 and is believed to be a Germanic prince, and he was buried with a sword, shield, and the skeleton of his horse. In the surrounding areas of mound 5 more human remains have also been found. So far the remains of thirty-nine people have been discovered. These remains date to between the 8th and 11th centuries, and it appears that these individuals died violently.   It is theorized that these people were executed as there was evidence of gallows being located in the same area.

From the initial findings of Sutton Hoo in 1939 there have been several later excavations over the decades, some as recent as the 1990s. The findings from over the years have allowed researchers to have a better understanding of the people who inhabited this area and their culture from as early as the Bronze Age to the early medieval period. The Germanic royalty were buried with weapons and the tools of warriors, and the evidence of regular executions supports the theories about a culture filled with battles and violence, but also that these Germanic people were very skilled and well-traveled throughout the world. Experts continue to study Sutton Hoo and learn valuable information about the culture of early Anglo-Saxon people from the artifacts they have found.


Since we haven’t covered this topic in class, I used the sources below to help find the information