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Doug's Wider History Spot: a trip to Sutton Hoo

Welcome back. Having been abroad in the last issue, we come back to earth in Britain. This time I am taking you to one of Britain’s greatest finds of the 20th century, - Sutton Hoo.

In 1939, Edith Pretty a landowner in Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, asked archaeologist Basil Brown to investigate the largest of several Anglo-Saxon burial mounds that were on her property. Inside, he made one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries of all time.

Beneath the mound was the imprint of a 27m-long (86ft) ship. At its centre was a ruined burial chamber packed with treasures: Byzantine silverware, sumptuous gold jewellery, a lavish feasting set, and, most famously, an ornate iron helmet. Dating to the early AD 600s, this outstanding burial clearly commemorated a leading figure of East Anglia, the local Anglo-Saxon kingdom. It may even have belonged to a king.

These images are of two helmets. The helmet on the right is built up from the original finds and the left-hand one is a reconstruction of what it would have originally looked like.

There are many other treasures including a very ornate clasp and a very rare sword.

You can listen to the Curator talk about the sword and about the helmet.

Edith Pretty donated all the finds to the British Museum. The collection is held in Gallery 41 and you can read more background to the period that the burial comes from including a virtual tour of the Gallery.

The site in Suffolk now belongs to the National Trust and a Visitor Centre has been built to explain the site because there is not just one mound but 18 in total, most of which have been robbed in the past.

Here father and daughter share their Lego verson of the Sutton Hoo helmet.

Visit the National Trust Sutton Hoo and explore more information about recent work in the area. The original excavations are shown in the Netflix film called ‘The Dig’ which has only recently been released. Maybe a good watch on a family movie night.

The British Museum shop sells a booklet on the Treasures from Sutton Hoo.

I hope you enjoy this History spot. As we are able to get out and about more next month I will return to more local sites where you can visit.

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