Sunday, September 24, 2017

Our Visit to Sutton Hoo

When walking the grounds, you can feel the specialness of this place.  It is quiet, save the wind rustling through the trees.  The ages speak to you, from the silence of the mounds.  It is a holy place, as it was meant to be.  A 'hoo' is the plateau, the flat spot on the top of a hill.  The trees that grow today where not present over 1,400 years ago - there were well hewn, to clear the view below from the River Deben.  A traveler could look up at the greatness in reverence from almost a mile.   

The discoveries that began in 1938 dispelled two things.  The mounds were not remaining Roman earthworks.  And that the northern Germanic peoples were grossly ignorant, living in mud huts.  The discoveries showed a vibrant, colorful culture punctuated by artifacts from distant lands.  These are facts.  

The Deben Estuary was an ideal waterway for trade with all of Scandinavia, northern Europe, and even the Mediterranean.  As an example of the reach, the garnets in King Raedwald's gold jewelry came from India.  The silver and bronze bowls are Coptic, and come from the eastern Mediterranean.  Then we have the workmanship and craftsmanship of the Saxons.   

King Raedwald's burial ship was a used clinker built craft that probably saw service in the North Sea and beyond.  The clinker boats were the original 'shift boats' of their time.  This particular craft was 90 feet long and measured  16 feet amidships.  It had to be his personal ship - the people dragged it one mile uphill to bury him.  The King's jewelry was all handmade with extensive filigree work depicting animals and men.  For the time, the King's military equipment was state of the art.  His sword, a pattern welded sword, is one of the best to be found.  The military gear sat in stark contrast to the neatly folded, colorful stacks of woven fabric.  Raedwald's personal drinking horns were included in the burial, believed to be from the extinct Aurochs.  

There is much more that I could write in this small venue, but rather than write, I encourage you to investigate Sutton Hoo for yourself.  But there is one thing that needs to be written.  The King was buried with his dinner service.  Nine solid silver plates and spoons.  What mud hut culture uses a dinner service made from silver?  


                                                          Copyright @2017 Terry Unger

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