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The Sutton Hoo ship-burial
The Sutton Hoo ship-burial was excavated in the spring and summer of 1939, just before the outbreak of the Second World War. Its remarkable finds signalled a radical change in attitude towards early Anglo-Saxon society, which, until then had been thought substantially inferior to life during the Roman period.
Deeply buried beneath a large mound lay the ghost of a twenty seven metre long oak ship. At its centre was a ruined burial chamber the size of a small room, built with a pitched roof and hung with textiles. In it a dead man lay surrounded by his possessions. He was buried with his weapons, his armour, wealth in the form of gold coins and gold and garnet fittings, silver vessels and silver-mounted drinking horns and cups, symbols of power and authority, and clothes, piled in heaps, ranging from fine linen overshirts to shaggy woollen cloaks and caps trimmed with fur. The burial also contained a leather purse with a jewelled lid. This contained a group of thirty-seven Merovingian gold tremisses, three coin sized blanks and two billets (ingots). While the finds from this burial reflect the status of the dead man, they are also a reminder of the master craftsmen, including swordsmiths and goldsmiths, who made these remarkable objects.