Why this famed Anglo-Saxon ship burial was likely the last of its kind
The archaeological discovery at Sutton Hoo—a sensation depicted in the film 'The Dig'—is perhaps the last gasp of a lavish English medieval funerary tradition.
Archaeologists can be a careful bunch. They hedge their bets, question the data at every turn, and tend to spurn any hint of sensationalism. But bring up the ancient burial mounds of Sutton Hoo in southeast England, and even the most circumspect scholar will spout superlatives. Magnificent! Monumental! Unparalleled!
In 1939, archaeologists discovered a 1,400-year-old Anglo-Saxon burial at the site that included an entire ship, as well as a dizzyingly rich cache of grave goods. The spectacular find changed historians’ understanding of early medieval Britain, says Sue Brunning, the curator who cares for the now legendary artifacts at the British Museum. “It transformed everything in a stroke.” (Read more about who was buried at Sutton Hoo.)
Eighty-two years later,