Thursday, 17 September 2015

Historia: The Sutton Hoo Festival of History

19 and 20 September 2015, 10.30am - 5.00pm

A chance to explore the roots of English history at Sutton Hoo - England's 'Valley of the Kings'



In 1939 archaeologist Basil Brown excavated the largest mound of many in the cemetery of the Anglo-Saxon kings at Sutton Hoo and made one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries of all time.

Inside the mound was the imprint of a twenty seven metre long ship with a ruined burial chamber at its centre adorned with gold jewellery, silverware and the famous burial mask or helmet, known collectively as the Sutton Hoo Treasure. The dead man was clearly a person of high status from the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of East Anglia, possibly a king.

The Suton Hoo burial mask
However, no trace of a body was found during the excavations of the ship burial. It seems to have totally decayed in the acidic conditions. Coins found inside the purse in the grave have been dated to around 610–635 AD providing an approximate date for the burial.

Rædwald the 7th-century king of East Anglia is the most favoured candidate for the occupant of the Sutton Hoo ship-burial. Rædwald reigned from around the end of the sixth century to his death in 624. Little detail has survived of his reign but he is remembered for a great victory of the Northumbrians at the Battle of the River Idle in 616.

"The Sutton Hoo ship burial provides remarkable insights into early Anglo-Saxon England. It reveals a place of exquisite craftsmanship and extensive international connections, spanning Europe and beyond. It also shows that the world of great halls, glittering treasures and formidable warriors described in Anglo-Saxon poetry was not a myth."

Mrs Edith Pretty, the landowner, donated the Sutton Hoo treasure to the British Museum in 1939 where it is today displayed in Room 41.

The ship burial
The National Trust has organised the Historia over the weekend 19 – 20 September to celebrate the history of Sutton Hoo and the Anglo-Saxon world. Expert speakers will deliver presentations  including Time Team's Dr Sam Newton and British Museum curator Dr Sue Brunning. Family activities have also been organised, including trails, treasure-handling, children's crafts, a Geology Walk and a display of the Sutton Hoo replica ship Sae Wylfing. Some activities are separately ticketed.

Historia Talks (£3 each) include:

19 September
Paul Jameson: The Battle of Hatfield
Does the archaeological discovery of hundreds of bodies solve the mystery of the fate of one of the great Anglo-Saxon kings?

Stephen Pollington: The Elder Gods
Who were the gods of early England and what legacy remains of the customs and beliefs of the Anglo-Saxons?

Dr Sam Lucy: Trumpington Bed Burial
The rare bed burial of a young woman with her pectoral cross provides a fascinating glimpse into the Anglo-Saxon world at a time of dramatic transition.

20 September
Paul Constantine: The Mound One Ship & Sae Wylfing
One of the greatest of the Sutton Hoo treasures - the Ship itself - rotted away in the soil over thirteen centuries. A new project asks if we can reconstruct this magnificent vessel.

Dr Sam Newton: Raedwald, the First King of England
Was Sutton Hoo the last resting place of King Rædwald of East Anglia? Rædwald lived, fought and died during one of the founding moments of English history.

Dr Richard Hoggett: Excavation & Experiment at West Stow
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the archaeological excavations at West Stow, which revealed the remains of an extensive Early Anglo-Saxon settlement in the Lark valley.

Dr Faye Minter: Anglo-Saxon Rendlesham
Recent archaeological work at Rendlesham, near Sutton Hoo, has revealed some fascinating new information about Anglo-Saxon East Anglia.

The Sutton Hoo cemetery
Great British Walk - Landscape, Archaeology & Geology of Sutton Hoo
As part of the Historia Festival of History, there will be the opportunity to explore the Sutton Hoo landscape from a new perspective when on Sunday 20th September National Trust Archaeologist Angus Wainwright leads a walk across the Sutton Hoo landscape, down to the River Deben, revealing multiple layers of geology, archaeology and history, through the Anglo-Saxons and into the prehistoric past.

Booking Essential!

The National Trust Visitor Centre at Sutton Hoo
Sutton Hoo, Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 3DJ
Phone: 01394 389714.

See the National Trust website for further details.


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