Ship burial of an Anglo-Saxon king
n the late 1930s, a landowner named Mrs Edith May Pretty allowed her nephew to dig into an unusual-looking hill near Woodbridge after he had become fascinated by the idea of finding some treasure. What he found went beyond his wildest dreams: the mound was a ‘Hoo’, a Saxon burial site filled with golden artifacts, ancient weapons, masks and jewels, all housed in a 90-foot-long ship that had been buried along with its passenger.
Officials from Ipswich Museum and Cambridge University recognised it as the grave of an incredibly important king, and fell over themselves to guard the discovery - which showed surprising similarities to the Beowulf story - from prying eyes and ears, including of course, the Nazis. As WW2 broke, the news of Sutton Hoo went underground, with secrecy and excitement in the archeology community that one of the most important finds in Britain had come to light.
Today the Sutton Hoo visitor explains the two fantastic stories: that of the ancient Saxon burial itself, and the subsequent cloak-and-dagger discovery. For kids, it’s a real treasure trove, where masks, gold jewelry, swords and ancient weapons are brought alive by the brilliant Indiana Jones-style discovery. Historians love the fact that the find has shone light on how people actually lived in the 6th century, a medieval period that drifts between myth, legend and fact.
Not that the story is finished, because the identity of the 6th century king - a man powerful enough to have been buried in his own 90-foot long maritime coffin, along with such incredible treasures - is still unknown. Hoo indeed?