Swords of Kingdoms: The Staffordshire Hoard at Sutton Hoo

Hilt collar from an ornate seax hilt

Two of the most important Anglo-Saxon archaeological discoveries to have ever been made are to be reunited in our major new exhibition opening on 19 May, 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.

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. 


This eagerly awaited exhibition, partially funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, was originally planned to take place in 2020 and will be the first time that objects from the Staffordshire Hoard have been on display in East Anglia. This marks a possible homecoming 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.
 

" A celebration of a golden and garnet adorned age of exquisite Anglo-Saxon craftsmanship, I am delighted that we will soon be able to welcome visitors to our much-anticipated temporary exhibition Swords of Kingdoms. It is such a special opportunity to be able to unite objects from the Staffordshire Hoard and across East Anglia with those found here at Sutton Hoo, objects which speak of the seventh century warrior elite and a period of great change."
- 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 curved buckle from the sword belt. These objects are all usually on display at the British Museum, having been donated to the nation by Sutton Hoo’s then owner, Edith Pretty.

" The Staffordshire Hoard is a collection of Anglo-Saxon treasure from the battlefield. There are golden warrior objects from swords, war-saddles, a royal helmet and a great war cross. Like the related treasures of Sutton Hoo, they show us a distant age that mixed pagan magic with new Christian beliefs. This was a time when kingdoms across Britain battled for supremacy, when kings fought and slayed each other. A bit like Game of Thrones, but real."
- Chris Fern

Housed in Sutton Hoo’s temporary exhibition space, the exhibition will be open daily from 19 May – 30 October.  


The exhibition supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, will see a total of 60 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 Castle Museum and Art Gallery.