Swords of Kingdoms: The Staffordshire Hoard at Sutton Hoo

Hilt collar from an ornate seax hilt

We are currently working with the other museums loaning items for this exhibition and we are hopeful that the exhibition will go ahead in the future. Please check back here for updates.

Two of the most important Anglo-Saxon archaeological discoveries to have ever been made are to be reunited in our major new exhibition, Swords of Kingdoms: The Staffordshire Hoard at Sutton Hoo, bringing together original treasures from the Sutton Hoo Great Ship Burial alongside objects from the Staffordshire Hoard.

The exhibition will be the first time that objects from the Staffordshire Hoard have been on display in East Anglia, marking a possible home-coming for the items, with experts believing the treasures found in the Hoard could have been made in workshops in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of East Anglia before being taken elsewhere.
Original objects from the famous 1939 dig at Sutton Hoo, on loan from the British Museum, will be on display together with items from the Staffordshire Hoard and further Anglo-Saxon finds on loan from Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery. 

" If having some of the original finds from the Sutton Hoo Great Ship Burial return to the site where they were discovered 81 years ago wasn’t special enough, to display them alongside objects from the Staffordshire Hoard is a dream come true."
- Laura Howarth

What is the Staffordshire Hoard?

The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver ever found and of a quality rarely seen when it was unearthed by a metal detectorist in a farmer's field in 2009. It joined the Sutton Hoo Great Ship Burial as one of the greatest Anglo-Saxon finds ever made.

Bearing remarkably similar details in design and craftsmanship as the treasures found at Sutton Hoo, it is now believed that many of the objects from the Staffordshire Hoard were made in the same seventh century East Anglian workshops as much of the gold and garnet cloisonné jewellery from Sutton Hoo. Believed to have been buried between c.650-675 in the kingdom of Mercia, the Staffordshire Hoard is predominantly made up of weaponry fittings and it is estimated that the fittings could have come from between 100-150 different swords. Their owners would have commanded in some of the great battles of the kingdom wars of seventh century Anglo-Saxon England.  

Gold mount with horse head terminals, decorated with gold filigree
Gold mount with horse head terminals, decorated with gold filigree
Gold mount with horse head terminals, decorated with gold filigree


This temporary exhibition has been put together by guest curator Chris Fern, an expert in the Staffordshire Hoard and will see a selection of items from the Hoard on display alongside finds from the Great Ship Burial of Sutton Hoo including one of the gold and garnet shoulder clasps, gold and garnet sword pyramids, three gold Anglo-Saxon coins and the gold sword belt buckle. These objects are all usually on display at the British Museum, having been donated to the nation by Sutton Hoo’s then owner, Mrs Edith Pretty. 

" It is wonderful to see these objects – the pinnacle of craftsmanship in their day, astounding in their artistic genius – returned to the kingdom of East Anglia where their story began. Through them we can glimpse a time when warriors and kings in widespread regional kingdoms fought for supremacy in an age of gold and of the coming of Christianity."
- Chris Fern

Housed in Sutton Hoo’s temporary exhibition space, the display will sit alongside the permanent exhibition of both original and replica items which was transformed as part of the £4million Releasing the Sutton Hoo Story project and unveiled in August 2019. 
The exhibition supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund will see a total of 62 original Anglo-Saxon objects on display, on loan from Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, the British Museum and Norwich Museum and Art Gallery.