In 1939, a series of mysterious hills were excavated in the English village of Sutton Hoo, East Anglia, and a number of graves, called burial mounds, were discovered. They dated back to Anglo-Saxon times. There were 18 mounds but most of them contained only a few broken objects. The biggest hill, however, was different. The objects found by archaeologists, indicated that the graves belonged to an important warrior – or even a king. In fact it was the most amazing collection of Anglo-Saxon items ever discovered.

Under the burial mound were the remains of a 27m long ship. A body was buried inside the ship along with treasures like silver and gold plates, cups, helmets, weapons, clothes, coins and jewellery. The coins have been dated to between 610 and 635 which suggest that it might be the burial of King Raedwald who died in 625. The Sutton Hoo burial ship gives us very important clues as to how the Saxons lived, travelled and fought. It shows that they were master craftsmen and warriors. Most of the artefacts are now in the British Museum in London. The epic old English poem, Beowulf, also describes a similar funeral in a treasure filled ship.

Illustration by Anna+Elena Balbusso, taken from Beowulf, Reading and Training, Step 4 (B2.1).