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Sutton Hoo

Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge, Suffolk, is the site of an Anglo-Saxon ship burial, discovered in 1939 under a long burial mound called a barrow. The ship, dated ca 625 CE from gold coins included in the treasure, would have been 90 feet in length, powered by 38 oars. Along with it was found the Sutton Hoo "treasure", consisting of gold and silver personal ornaments, and horse harness, jewellery, and armour, including a sword, shield and helmet, silver bowls and a silver dish made in the Byzantine Empire — and a bard's lyre. However, no human remains were found. The artefacts were removed from the site and put on display in the British Museum.

The amount and value of the treasures found is indicative of the owner’s “widespread connections” and appropriate for a king’s burial. King Raedwald of East Anglia (d. 627) is the favorite candidate. A similar ship burial is described for Beowulf.

The great barrow that covered the kingly ship was surrounded by 19 other mounds and numerous burials. In the 1980s, further work at the site uncovered more burials, which included a second ship and a double burial, within a single mound, of a young man and his horse. More recently, a chance find, when the National Trust was preparing a visitor's centre, revealed a second cemetery.

Christianity was beginning to make itself felt, and high caste pagans responded with ever more elaborate ritual, archeologists connected with the site theorize. Cremation was now adopted, in defiance of Christian practice, leading up to the royal ship burial.

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