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Sutton Hoo

Suffolk Record Office and the Anglo-Saxons?  With our earliest document dating to the 12th Century, Anglo-Saxon researchers and enthusiasts might be forgiven for not thinking of us when planning a visit to Suffolk!  However, our collections reflect the continuation of many stories which began with the Anglo-Saxons – immigration, kingship, parishes and many more.  In addition, our Local Studies collections contain a wealth of secondary sources on Anglo-Saxon Suffolk.

Sutton Hoo is a fine example of an archaeological site which really ‘comes to life’ through the archives; after all, how could a modern day visitor make sense of the features on the ground without the photographs, the excavation records, the journals and maps which tell the story – both of the site itself and the fascinating tale of its discovery!

To learn about the site itself, a good place to start is the National Trust’s Sutton Hoo website and the Sutton Hoo Society’s website.

Below is a sample of the Sutton Hoo-related material you can find at Suffolk Record Office:

Part of John Norden's 1601 survey showing the Sutton Hoo mounds for Sir Michael Stanhope (Ref: LRO/629/1)

Part of John Norden’s 1601 survey for Sir Michael Stanhope showing the Sutton Hoo mounds (Ref: LRO/629/1)

Surveys drawn in 1600 by John Norden for Sir Michael Stanhope reflect Suffolk’s place in the history of cartography; Norden is credited with developing key innovations that were adopted nationally.  His survey above records the Anglo-Saxon grass burial mounds at Sutton Hoo, which held the royal burial ship, excavated in 1939 by Basil Brown.

Image of Basil Brown with a piece of Roman tableware, mid 20th Century (Ref: CAA/SWW/1/5)

Image of Basil Brown with a piece of Roman tableware, mid 20th Century (Ref: CAA/SWW/1/5)

Basil Brown (1888 – 1977) was a prolific worker and recorder of archaeological sites in Suffolk. Discoverer of the Sutton Hoo Ship burial in 1938-39 and West Stow Anglo-Saxon village in 1947, the value of his work (copiously recorded by handwritten notes, drawings and maps) went largely unrecognised during his lifetime.  Read about his archive here.