The Sutton Hoo ship excavation.

Essay by TristessaUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, March 2003

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In 1939 a remarkable discovery was made by Charles Philips and his team. They came upon a large rowing ship dating back to the mid 7th century, filled with helmets, shields, swords and other objects of significant value dating back to medieval times. They called it Sutton Hoo.

Sutton Hoo is in the part of England known in ancient times as East Anglia. It consists of Norfolk and Suffolk and lies on the eastern seaboard. Sutton Hoo burial ground is on the bank of the River Deben, opposite of the town of Woodbridge, about ten miles from Ipswich.

England in the 6th and 7th century was a brutal and violent time where a king was likely to end his reign with his head and hands set up as an enemy's trophy. Most of the time a king was buried with their ship's remains. This was not true in the case of Sutton Hoo.

Archeologists had expected to find the remains of a king buried inside the rowing ship at Sutton Hoo. They did not find a trace of human remains. Archeologists concluded that the burial was what they call a cenotaph, an empty tomb meant for a person whose body was destroyed or buried elsewhere.

Archeologists did however discover a number of precious things inside of Sutton Hoo. In the center of the ship they found a wooden cabin. Forty- one gold pieces were found encrusted with garnets. Everywhere in the remains there was evidence of the warlike nature of the owner: a gold handled sword, a gigantic shield and a coat of mail. The crushed remains of the warrior king's helmet were there. It had bronze and silver plaques with pieces to protect the wearer's ears and neck. It also had a hinged visor to protect his face.