Sunday, 4 September 2011

Sutton Hoo – Myth, Legend and History



A visit to Sutton Hoo, on the banks of the River Deben, has been on my wish list for a long time.

After the Roman Emperor withdrew his troops from Britannia in 410 AD, the power vacuum was quickly filled by tribes from the continent – the Anglo-Saxons I wrote about here.  Within a century, Norfolk and Suffolk had become the Kingdom of The East Angles and ‘England’ was becoming a reality.  Kingdoms, of course, need Kings and this is where the lines between myth, legend and history start to blur.


What we do know is that beneath the 20 or so mounds at Sutton Hoo, important people were laid to rest.  When excavations started in the late 1930s, the outline of a ship was revealed and in it were precious items like the helmet above.


Scholars are mostly in agreement that the burial is that of Rædwald, the first king of whom more is known than his name.

Most of what we know comes from “Ecclesiastical History of the English People” , completed by Bede in 731 AD.  I wonder what he would have thought of being able to buy a copy via the internet?  Or of reading it on line?

The site is in the care of The National Trust, working with the British Museum and a great place to wander round with excellent displays in the museum and very friendly staff.  I’ll just whet your appetite with a few more pictures.





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