1400s – 1600s Records and Robbers
Basil Brown was not the first to uncover the treasures of Sutton Hoo's ancient burial mounds.
Treasure hunting Tudors
During the 16th century, under the commission of Elizabeth I, Dr John Dee was sent to find treasures in Suffolk. Although there is no definite evidence of his visit, Mound 1 was raided around this time. The amateur archaeologists decided to drive a vertical shaft into the middle of the mound. The hole began to capsize in on them, fortunately causing the robbers to give up digging inches away from treasures.
Excavations - the unveiling of a King?
The summer of 1938 saw the first in a long series of excavations to be undertaken at Sutton Hoo. Basil Brown initially excavated Mounds 2, 3 and 4 but was greeted only with dismay, the mounds had been robbed in antiquity.
The Burial of a King?
Excavations resumed the next summer in 1939, Basil was determined to unlock the mysteries of Mound 1, the largest mound. It was beneath this mound that one of the richest surviving Anglo Saxon Burial sites was discovered. Basil discovered the ghost remains of a 27m long oak ship with a richly presented burial chamber built within. It is believed that this is the final resting place of one of the 7th Kings of the East Angles – King Raedwald.
Mrs Pretty, as sole owner of the treasures, decided to donate everything to the British Museum. Due to the needs of World War II, artefacts were not looked at until 1945 when Robert Bruce-Mitford, assistant keeper in the British Museum department of British and Medieval antiquities began to clean the excavated items.
Small excavations continued after Basil Brown but it was not until 1983 with the arrival of Martin Carver that new burials were uncovered including a warrior buried with his horse and the gruesome sand bodies of sacrificed victims.