The royal burial mounds

The King's mound

The burial mounds at dawn © NTPL/John Millar

The burial mounds at dawn

Make your own pilgrimage to the royal cemetery following in the footsteps of  our ancient ancestors. Beneath today's lasting monuments lay the graves of Anglo-Saxon nobles.

Mound one, the king's mound, guarded a 90ft ship within which a great chamber was filled with swords, spears, shields, helmet, feasting items and exquisite jewellery of gold and garnet made of the highest quality.

The Prince and his horse

The display of original finds from mound 17 © National Trust

The display of original finds from mound 17

Underneath Mound 17 lay a double burial: a young warrior aged about 24 and his horse. The warrior must have been greatly loved, for he was buried with his weapons as well as every day items such as his comb. Perhaps his mother worried he wouldn't keep tidy in the afterlife without it.

Be sure to see the genuine finds from this evocative burial in the exhibition centre.

 

What no boat?

Basil Brown crawls towards archaeologists excavating inside the boat.

The 90ft Anglo-Saxon boat from Sutton Hoo no longer exists. It was made of oak and, after 1400 years in the soil, it rotted away leaving only its 'ghost' imprinted in the sand. Please don't be upset - that's science.

Where's the treasure?

Gold belt buckle found in mound 1

The mound 1 treasure is displayed in room 41: Europe 300 - 1100 AD at The British Museum, London. Please check with the British Museum to find out when they're open for a visit.

Did you know...

  • The mounds are scheduled ancient monuments
  • You can only stand on them with a guide. Please book at reception
  • Edith's son, Robert, left his rollerskates in Mound 2 back in 1939

What would you have done?

As the landowner at the time of the discovery, Edith Pretty was declared the owner of the priceless Anglo-Saxon treasures. She gave them all to the British Museum. Would you have done the same?

Basil Brown (not Brush)

Basil, an amateur archaeologist, made what he described as 'the find of a lifetime' in 1939. We owe a great debt to this quiet man who painstakingly uncovered the largest saxon boat found in the UK so far.

The burial ground

The burial mounds

The burial mounds

There are around 18 burial mounds within the royal cemetary, however most of these had been robbed throughout history. The two that were 'missed' by the tomb raiders were 1 and 17. Mound 2 also contained a boat thought to be about 65ft long but like its sister ship, this didn't survive in the ground. It's only through the discovery of iron rivets that suggest a boat was buried there.

When you visit Sutton Hoo you'll notice one mound that's taller than the rest. This is mound 2 and it was reconstructed to its original height back in 1992.  As you walk around the perimeter try to imagine all these bumps as high as this one. They must have looked very imposing to the Anglo-Saxons down on the River Deben all those years ago.

 

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