National Trust Sutton Hoo

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Visitors to Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, can view the Anglo-Saxon burial site and the priceless treasures discovered in 1939.

Sutton Hoo, (grid reference TM288487) near Woodbridge, Suffolk, is an Anglo-Saxon cemetery and the site of an early 7th century ship burial. The ship-burial was discovered in 1939 and contained a wealth of artifacts. Sutton Hoo is of primary importance to early medieval historians because it sheds light on a period in English history that otherwise has little documented evidence remaining – it has been called “page one of English history”. It is one of the most remarkable archaeological finds in England because of its age, size, far reaching connections, completeness, beauty, rarity and historical importance.

In addition to its great importance as an archaeological site, Sutton Hoo has captured the imagination of the general public due to the legend surrounding the discovery of the ship-burial under Mound 1.

In 1938, Mrs Edith May Pretty was the landowner for the Sutton Hoo site. Her home had an imposing view down the hill towards the mounds, and she had often wondered what these strange, rabbit infested, mounds were. One night, she had a vivid dream in which she saw images of a funereal procession and of great treasures buried under what is now known as Mound 1. She made contact with a local archaeologist, Basil Brown, and took him down to the site, suggesting he start digging at Mound 1. However, that mound showed obvious signs of disturbance, leading Mr Brown to suspect that it had been robbed and that there would be nothing of interest left beneath it. Instead, he started work on Mounds 3, 2 and, finally, 4 over the course of 1938. These excavations did reveal interesting treasures, but the mounds had been robbed and nothing exceptional was found.

Mrs Pretty kept on insisting on a full excavation of Mound 1 and, in 1939, Mr Brown began work. He soon discovered the enormously important treasure trove that makes Sutton Hoo famous. Reputedly, the centre of the burial chamber was found beneath the exact spot where Mrs Pretty had told him to dig a year previously.

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