Sutton Hoo part 6
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Part 6


Survey Details

he ship as it was being slowly exposed was subject to archaeological and photographic recording. The photographs, I believe, were kept in the Science Museum but were unfortunately destroyed during the Second World War. It was during the dig, two school teachers by the names of Barbara Wagstaff and Mercie Lack were allowed to photograph the site during their summer holidays. We are lucky that they were allowed to do so because their photographic record is all that survives from the initial uncovering.

How Are We Going To Get This Ship Up There?

oving a ship of this size from the River Deben estuary to the burial site must have taken quite some time and effort. It is estimated that the ship must have been pulled uphill on wooden rollers by teams of men and horses. This would have put extreme strain on the vessel and might explain the repairs by the double riveting. It is unlikely that any damage sustained by the towing process would have been repaired in all reality. The mound or barrow leave a few questions. When you dig a hole and fill it in, you are left with a mound - unless you compress it. The trench dug for the Sutton Hoo ship when filled in would also leave a mound. The question is whether extra soil was brought in to increase the mound and if so, how high were the original barrows? What we see today is hundreds of years of erosion and levelling. Some of the mounds are so flat that very little if any extra soil was used to emphasize them. My graphic may give you some idea of what it possibly looked like at the time. It is only my estimate and should only be viewed as such.

Death Of A King?

his wonderful find of a Saxon ship was in itself so valuable to our understanding of the East Anglian Saxon burial ritual. So many sites had been ransacked in the past that very little had survived of any significance. Not only was there a ship but a burial chamber that had escaped the vandalism. The chamber contained riches of extraordinary beauty and artefacts of everyday life. It could only be that of a king.

Construction Of The Burial Chamber

s stated on a number of occasions. What the archaeologists were looking at was a cast. All the wood that made up the ship and the burial chamber had decayed to nothing. The burial chamber has always been the subject of argument and will be discussed here. Basil brown was not allowed to touch or remove contents. the specialists who joined the dig were responsible for this. 

Noah's Ark

ertain items when found were subject to damage. This would not have happened if the contents had been laid flat and the soil back-filled over them. This leads us to the conclusion that there may have been a roof of some description or Noah's Ark like cabin that contained the body and his possessions. This conclusion was made because of the damage sustained when the roof may have collapsed after burial when the timber rotted. The actual shape of the chamber has been hard to define. It is thought it could have been just a traditional timber V shape roof with no sides that were nailed or pegged to the gunwales or lower bulkheads. It may have been a structure similar to that mentioned first off or a simple plank or boarding that rested on the bulkheads at the bottom of the ship. What we do know is that it stretched from bulkhead 10 to 16. Here was found the personal belongings of somebody very important.


he lifting of the artefacts began in the summer of 1939. Between bulkheads 10 and 16 there laid the riches of a ruler or king of some eminence. The similarities to ancient Egyptian burials such as the Pharaohs cannot go without comparison. If not quite so lavish as those mummified within the pyramids, the concept of a pagan burial indicated their belief in the afterlife and the preparation that had to be made for the transition. Despite his high position in East Anglian life, he would still need those items which were required to exist in the mortal world. Many of the items recovered were everyday items that would make his life more comfortable on the other side.

Below is a list of most of the items recovered

Spear ferrules. .
Bronze hanging bowl. .
Iron stand. .
Helmet fragments. .
Shield centre piece. .
Stone sceptre. .
Iron rings of two buckets. .
Two silver bowls. .
Gold buckle. .
Purse. .
Various clasps. .
Sword remains. .
Selection of spear heads. .
Drinking horn adornments. .
Iron axe. .
Pottery bottle. .
Iron lamp. .
Silver dish. .
Various silver plates. .
Segments of a mail coat. .
Three cauldrons. .
Cauldron suspension Ironwork. .
Two Silver spoons.

Do it yourself !!!!

s you can see by the above cooking utensils - he would be expected to cater for himself in the afterlife. Something he may not have had much experience in.


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copyright Glen Ray Crack - Battle - East Sussex - United Kingdom
Submitted 10th January 1998
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