Historia; A Festival of History

Saxon Warriors in battle dress

A series of lectures by renowned speakers is to take place this autumn here at Sutton Hoo. The talks by leading Anglo-Saxon archaeologists and historians will explore the significance of various aspects of the site and local area, drawing on a range of different approaches and new thinking.

17th September 2017 

11:30 - ‘Suffolk's Valley of the Kings; Sutton Hoo and the River Deben’, Sam Newton 

Dr Sam Newton of Wuffing Education, and a familiar face at Sutton Hoo, will be reconsidering the importance of the landscape of the Deben valley. With the recent work and discoveries being made at nearby Rendlesham, what impact could this new site have on how we view the finds here at Sutton Hoo?

14:30 - ‘How English is Sutton Hoo?’, Stephen Pollington

Stephen Pollington is a widely published historian, specialising in Anglo-Saxon England and Old English. He will be discussing just how far we can understand Sutton Hoo as being ‘English’. Sutton Hoo stood at the beginning of medieval kingship in Britain but what does 'English' really mean in the context of the sixth and seventh centuries?

24th September 2017

11:30 - ‘Thoughts and Crosses: New Research into the Anglo-Saxon Church in East Anglia’, Richard Hoggett

Dr Richard Hoggett is a historian working on – amongst others – the conversion to Christianity within East Anglia, with several books and articles published on the topic. The conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity was one of the most significant cultural changes in our nation's history. In light of new research, he will be considering the early use of Christian iconography and the high-precision dating of Anglo-Saxon burials in relation to recently published Middle Saxon sites and discoveries.

14:30 - ‘The Sutton Hoo gold objects in the light of new discoveries of Anglo-Saxon goldwork’, Helen Geake

Dr Helen Geake is an Anglo-Saxon archaeologist and well known to any Time Team watchers. She will be discussing the gold objects of the Anglo-Saxons, using the 400 gold objects so far recorded in the Portable Antiquities Scheme to tell us more about the spectacular treasure found here at Sutton Hoo. Was there a ‘Sutton Hoo workshop’, crafting each of those items too? Or does the Sutton Hoo gold remain unique?

Outline of Anglo-Saxon grave at Sutton Hoo Visitor Centre
Outline of Anglo-Saxon grave at Sutton Hoo Visitor Centre

1st October 2017

11:30 - ‘The Cemetery under the Visitor Centre’, Chris Fern

Dr Chris Fern is a Norfolk based archaeologist and has worked on both the Sutton Hoo burial mounds and the earlier Anglo-Saxon cemetery found ahead of the development of the Visitor Centre in 2000. Scientific dating shows us that this cemetery ended just as funerals were starting at the mounds. He will consider the possibility of an ancestral connection between the two sites and how the findings of this earlier cemetery are significant for understanding Sutton Hoo, East Anglia and its dynasty.

14:30 - ‘Hoards, Halls, and Burials’, Leslie Webster

Dr Leslie Webster is a former senior curator at the British Museum and has extensively published on the Anglo-Saxon world. She will be talking about the remarkable discoveries of the Staffordshire Hoard, the princely grave at Prittlewell, the high-status sites at Lyminge and the villa regia of Rendlesham. Each of these sites along with Sutton Hoo have changed our understanding of the profound social and religious changes taking place in this period.

8th October 2017

11:30 - ‘Sutton Hoo: the contexts of the burial ground’, Tom Williamson

Professor Tom Williamson from the University of East Anglia will be exploring what lays under the stunning landscape of Sutton Hoo and its surrounding environment. He will consider the site’s placement in relationship with the river Deben, the 'palace' site at Rendlesham and in terms of the wider geography of East Anglia. What can this tell us about the very origins of this Anglo-Saxon kingdom?

14:30 - ‘Aspects of the sword at the time of Sutton Hoo’, Paul Mortimer

Paul Mortimer is a published author on weaponry and our very own King Raedwald here at Sutton Hoo and he will be supporting his talk with reconstructed examples. He will explore how the sword found in Sutton Hoo’s Mound 1 led to new research into Anglo-Saxon swords and gained a reputation as the pre-eminent high status weapon found in an Anglo-Saxon grave. But is it truly deserving of this title?

Sutton Hoo warrior and sword
Sutton Hoo warrior and sword

15th October 2017

11:30 - ‘Mind the Pennies: Money in Anglo-Saxon England’, Rory Naismith

Dr Rory Naismith of Kings College London is a specialist in the use of money in Anglo-Saxon England and will examine the money which circulated in Anglo-Saxon England. He will discuss the origins of the currency we recognise today and how the Anglo-Saxons used these early coins side by side with other coins and commodities.

14:30 - ‘Reflections on the earliest English Kingdoms’, Martin Carver

Professor Martin Carver of York University, who oversaw major excavations at the site in the 1980s, will be talking about the exciting new research which has been happening in the last decade. Selecting a few of these, he will cover new theories on how the English kingdoms came into being, how they were governed, the impact of Christianity, the changing social roles of men and women, and the new kinds of settlement and monuments that sprung up in the seventh century.

Talks last an hour and will take place in the Old Squash Court at 11.30am and 2.30pm. There will be time for questions from the audience.

Please be aware we do not allow recording equipment to be used during the lectures without prior request and permission from the speakers for the protection of the intellectual copyright of the speakers.

Tickets will be priced at £5 and are available from Reception on 01394 389714. For further information, please check our 'What's on' page.