East Anglia – Places of Interest

KING EDMUND THE MARTYR 20th NOVEMBER 869

Hoxne, Suffolk

The Orthodox King Edmund the Martyr was a king and martyr of East Anglia in the ninth century. He succeeded to the throne of East Anglia in 855 as a fourteen year old, crowned on 25th December 855 at Bures, Suffolk which was a royal capital at the time. He died a martyrs death by the “Great heathen army”, a large army of Vikings that pillaged and conquered much of England in the late ninth century even Wessex, until King Alfred the Great defeated them at Edington in Wiltshire on the north edge of Salisbury Plain.

 He was venerated early and became the patron saint of England which he still is.

 Edmund was born in 841, Early accounts and stories provide a cloud over who is his father. The sources considered the most reliable represent Edmund as descended from the preceding kings of East Anglia, when King Ethelweard died in 854, it was Edmund, while only fourteen years old who succeeded to the throne. Little is known of Edmund in the next fourteen years. His reign was said to be a model king. He was said to have treated all with equal justice and was unbending to flatters. He was said to have spent a year at his residence at Hunstanton learning the Psalter which he was able to recite from memory.

 In 869, the Great Heathen Army advanced on East Anglia and killed King Edmund. He may have been slain in battle, but it is excepted he met his death by bein martyred, the place he met his martyrdom is not fully known, the name of the placeis known as Haegelisdun which is believed to be Hoxne, on his capture he was pressed to renounce his Christian faith which he refused, the Danes beat him and then shot at him with arrows as he was tied to a tree which is said to be a Hoxne, at then ed he was beheaded, on the orders of Ivor the Boneless and his brother Ubba. According to one legend his head was then thrown into the forest, but was found safe by searchers after following the cries of an ethereal wolf that was calling in Latin, “Hic, Hic, Hic – “Here, Here, Here”.

 His body was interred at Beadoriceworth which became Bury Saint Edmund`s becoming at the same time the patron saint of England, in 2006 became the patron saint of Suffolk.

 King Edmund the Martyr memorial which is a stone cross placed in the spot of an old oak tree which had been the traditional tree in which the Edmund was martyred, the tree toppled over in August 1848 by its own weight, it is south of the village of Hoxne on Cross Street, crossing the river Wayery by the Goldbrook bridge, it is claimed a newly wed couple spotted his glinting spurs as he was hiding under the bridge, and so was rounded on by the king and why for many years newly weds would not cross the bridge on their wedding day.

 Lastly a statement by AElfric of  Eynsham.

Edmund`s death, according to Aelfric of Eynsham

 “King Edmund, against whom Ivor advanced, stood inside his hall and mindful of the Saviour threw out his weapons. He wanted to match the example of Christ, who forbade Peter to win the cruel Jews with weapons. Lo! the impious one then bound Edmund and insulted him ignominiously, and beat him with rods, and afterwards led the devout king to a living tree, and tied him there with strong bonds, and beat him with whips in between the whips lashes, Edmund called out with true belief in the Saviour Christ. because of his belief, because he called to Christ to aid him, the heathens became furiously angry. They then spot spears at him, as if it was a game, until he was entirely covered with their missiles, like the bristles of a hedgehog (just like St. Sebastian was). When Ivor the impious pivate saw that the noble king would not forsake Christ, but with resolute faith called after  Him, he ordered Edmund beheaded, and the heathens did so. While Edmund still called out to Christ, the heathen dragged the holy man to his death, and with one stroke struck off his head, and his soul journeyed happily to Christ” Aelfric of Eynsham.

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SUTTON HOO

Tranmere House, Sutton, Nr Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP12-3DJ.

Tel 01394-389700

E-mail suttonhoo@nationaltrust.org.uk

HISTORY

Sutton Hoo is the site of two 6th and 7th century cemetaries, one contained an undisturbed ship burial including a wealth of Anglo-Saxon artifacts of outstanding art-historical and archaeological significance, now held in the British Museum in London.

Sutton Hoo is of a primary importance to early medieval historians because it sheds light on a period of English history that is on the margin between myth, legend and historical documentation. Use of the site culminated at a time, when Raedwald, the ruler of the East Angles, held senior power (Bretwalda) among the English people and played a dynamic if ambiguous part in the establishment 0f Christian rulership in England; it is generally thought most likely that he is the man buried in the ship. the site has been vital in understanding the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of East Anglia and the whole early Anglo-Saxon period.

The ship-burial, probably dating from the early 7th century and excavated in 1939, is one of the most magnificent archaeological finds in England for its size and completeness, far-reaching connections, the quality and beauty of its contents and the profound interest of the burial ritual itself. The initial excavation was privately sponsored by the landowner, but when the significance of the find became apparent, national experts took over, subsequent archaeological campaigns, particularly in the late 1960s, and late 1980s, have explored the wider site and many other individual burials. The most significant artifacts from the ship-burials, displayed in the British Museum, are those found in the burial chamber, including a suite of metalwork dress fittings in gold and gems a ceremonial helmet, shield and sword, a lyre, and many pieces of silver plate from the Eastern Roman Empire. the ship-burial has from the time of its discovery prompted comparisons with te world described in the Old English, poem Beowulf, which is set in Southern Sweden. It is in that region, especially at Vendal, that close archaeological parallels to the ship-burial are found, both in its general form and in details of the military equipment that the burial contains.

Although it is the ship-burial that commands the greatest attention from tourists, there is also rich historical meaning in the Deben estuary and the North Sea, and their relation to other sites in the immediate neighbourhood of the two grave fields found at Sutton Hoo, one (the “Sutton Hoo cemetery”) had been long known to exist because it consists of a group of around 20 earthern burial mounds that rise slightly above the horizon of the hill-spur when viewed from the opposite bank. The other, called here the “new” burial ground is situated on a second hill-spur close to the present Exhibition Hall, about 500m upstream from the first, and was discovered and partially explored in 2000 during preparations for the construction of the hall. This also had burials under mounds, but was not known because they had been since been flattened by agricultural activity. The site has a visitors centre, with many original and replica artifacts and a reconstruction of the ship-burial chamber, and the burial field can be toured in the Summer months.

Location

Sutton Hoo is the name of an area spread along the bank of the river Deben opposite the harbour of the small Suffolk town of Woodbridge, about 7 miles (11km) from the sea, it overlooks the tidal estuary a little below the lowest convenient fording place,(1) it formed a path of entry into East Anglia during the period that followed the end of the Roman Imperial rule in the 5th century.(2)
South of Woodbridge, there are 6th century burial grounds at Rushmere, Little Bealings and Tuddenham St. Martin (3) and circling Brightwell Heath, the site of the mounds that date from the Bronze Age. (4) There are cemeteries of a similar date at Rendlesham and Ufford. (5) A ship-burial at Snape is the only one in England that can be compared to the examples at Sutton Hoo. (6)
The territory between the Orwell and the watersheds of the Alde and Deben rivers may have been an early centre of Royal power, originally centred upon Rendlesham or Sutton Hoo, and a primary component in the formation of the East Anglian Kingdom in the early 7th century. Gipeswic (modern Ipswich) began its growth as a centre for foreign trade. (7) Botolph`s monastery at Iken was founded by royal grant in 654 (8) and Bede identified Rendlesham as the site of AEthelwold`s royal dwelling. (9-10)

Early Settlement

Neolithic and Bronze Age
There is evidence that Sutton Hoo was occupied during the Neolithic period, circa 3000 B.C., when woodland in the area was cleared for farming. They dug small pits, that contained flint-tempered earthware pots. Several pits were near to hollows where large trees had been uprooted the Neolithic farmers may have associated the hollows with the pots. (11)
During the Bronze Age, when agricultural communities living in Britain were adapting the newly introduced technology of metelworking, timber framed roundhouses were built at Sutton Hoo, with wattle and daub walling and thatched roofs. The best surviving examples contained a ring of upright posts, up to 33mm (1 1/2in) in diameter, with one pair suggesting an entrance to the south-east, with a central hearth. The farmers who dwelt in this house used decorated beckor-style pottery, cultivated barley, oats and wheat, and collected hazelnuts. They were responsible for creating ditches that marked out the surrounding grassland into sections, indicating land ownership. the acidic sandy soil eventually became leached and infertile and it was likely that for this reason, the settlement was abandoned, to be replaced in the Middle Bronze Age (1500 – 1000 B. C.) by sheep or cattle that were enclosed by wooden stakes. (12)

Iron Age and Romano-British period
During the Iron Age, iron became the dominant form of metal used in the British Isles, replacing copper nad Bronze. In the Middle Iron Age (around 500 B. C.) people living on the Sutton Hoo area grew crops again, dividing the land up into small enclosures now known as Celtic fields. (13) The use of narrow trenches implies grape cultivation, whilst in other places, small pockets of dark soil indicate the big cabbages may have been grown. (14) Such cultivation continued into Romano-British period, from 43 to around 410 A. D. Life for peoples of Western Europe were encouraged by the Empire to maximise the use of land for growing crops, the area around Sutton Hoo suffered degradation and soil lose was again eventually abandoned and became a wilderness. (14)

Backgrounds

Following the withdrawl of the Romans from southern Britain after 410 A. D., the remaining population slowly adapted the langauge, customs and beliefs of the Germanic Angles, Saxons and Jutes. Much of the process may have been due to cultural appropriation, due to widespread migration into Britain, although the people that arrived may have been relatively small in numbers and aggressive towards the local population they encountered. (15)
The Anglo-Saxons developed new cultural traits. Their language developed into Old English, a Germanic language that was different from the languages previously spoken in Britain, and they were pagans, following a polythieistic religion. Differences in their daily material culture changed, as they stopped living in roundhouses and constructed retangular timber homes similar to those in Denmark, and Northern Germany. Their jewellery began to exhibit the increasing influence if Migration Period Art from the Continental Europe.
During this period, southern Britain became divided up into a number of small independent kingdoms. Several pagan cemeteries from the Kingdom of the East Angles have been found, many of the graves were accompanied by grave goods, which included combs, tweezers and brooches, as well as weapons,sacrificed animals had been placed in the graves.
At the time Sutton Hoo cemetery was in use, the river Deben would have formed part of a busy trading and transportation network. A number of settlements grew up along the river, most of which would have been small farmsteads, although it seems likely that there was a larger administrative centre as well, where the aristocracy held court. Archaeologists have speculated that such a centre may have existed at Rendlesham, Melton, Bromeswell or at Sutton Hoo, it has been suggested that when the wealthier families buried their dead in burial mounds, there was later used as sites for early churches. In such cases, the mounds would have been destroyed. (17)
the Sutton Hoo grave field contained about twenty barrows and was reserved for people who were buried individually with objects that indicated that they were exceptionally wealthy or prestige, it was used in this way from around 575 to 625 A. D. and contrasts with the Snape cemetery, where the ship-burial and furnished graves were added to a graveyard of buried pots contained cremated ashes.

Comparisons

Similarities with Swedish burials
In 1881-1883 a series of excavations by Hjalmar Stolpe revealed 14 graves in the village of Vendel in eastern Sweden. (18) Several of the burials were contained in boats up to 9m (30ft) lang and were furnished with swords, helmets and other items. (19) In 1828, another gravefield containing princely burials was discovered at Valsgarde. (20) The pagan custom of furnished burial may have reached a natural culmination as Christianity began to make its mark. (21) The Vendel and Valsgarde graves also included ships, similar artifact groups and many sacrificed animals. (22) ship-burials for this period are largely confined to eastern Sweden and East Anglia. the earlier mound burials at Old Uppsala, in the same region, have a more direct bearing on the Beowulf story, but do not contain ship-burials. The famous Gokstad and Oseburg ship-burials of Denmark are of a later date.
The inclusion of drinking-horns, lyre, sword and shield, bronze and glass vessels is typical of high-status chamber-graves in England. (23) The similar selection and arrangement of goods in these graves indicate a conformity of household possessions and funeral customs between people of this status, with the Sutton Hoo ship-burial being a uniquely elaborated version of exceptional quality. Unusually, Sutton Hoo included regalia and instruments of power and had direct Scandinavian connections, A possible explanation for such a connection lies in the well-attested northern custom by which the children of leading men were after raised away from home by a distinguished friend or relative. (24) A future East-Anglian king. Whilst being fostered in Sweden could have acquired high quality objects and made contact with armourers, before returning to East Anglia to rule.
Carver argues that pagan East Anglian rulers would have responded to the growing encroachment of Roman Christendom by employing more elaborate cremation rituals, so expressing defiance and independence. The execution victims, if not sacrificed for the ship-burial, perhaps suffered for their dissent from the cult of Christian royalty (25) their executions may coincide in date with the period of Mercian hegemony over East Anglian in about 760-852 A. D.

Connections with Beowulf

Beowulf the Old English epic poem set in Denmark and Sweden (mostly Gotaland Western Sweden) during the first half of the 6th century, opens with the funeral of a king in a ship laden with treasures and has other descriptions of hoards, including Beowulf`s own mound-burial, its picture of warrior life in the hall of the Danish Scylding clan, with formal mead-drinking, minstrel recitation to the lyre and the rewarding of valour with gifts, and the description of a helmet, could all be illustrated from the Sutton Hoo finds. The interpretation of each has a bearing on the other (26) and the east Sweden connections the Sutton Hoo material reinforce this link. (27) Dr Sam Newton (Independant Scholar/Time Team fame) draws together the Sutton Hoo and Beowulf links with the Raedwald identification and using genealogical data, argues that the Wuffing dynasty derived from the Geatish house of Wuffing, mentioned in both Beowulf and the poem Widsith. Possibly the oral materials from which Beowulf was assembled belonged to East Anglian royal tradition, and they and the ship-burial took shape together as heroic restatements of migration-age origins. (26)

Prior to 1939

In Mediaeval times the westerly end of the mound was dug away and a boundary ditch was laid out. Therefore when looters dug into the apparent centre during the 16th century they missed the real centre! nor could they have foreseen that the deposit lay very deep in the belly of a buried ship, well below the level of the land surface.(28)
In the 16th century, a pit dated by bottle shards left at the bottom, was dug into mound 1, narrowly missing the burial. (28) The area was explored extensively during the 19th century, when a small viewing platform was constructed, (29) but no useful records were made. In 1860s it was reported that nearly two bushels of iron screw bolts, presumably ship rivets had been found at the recent opening of a mound and that it was hoped to open others. (30)

Basil Brown and Charles Phillips: 1938-1939

In 1910 a mansion with fifteen bedrooms was built a short distance from the mounds and in 1926 the mansion and its arable land was purchased by Colonel Frank Pretty, a retired military officer who had recently married. In 1934, Col Pretty died, leaving a widow Edith Pretty and young son. (31) Following her bereavement, Mre Pretty became interested in Spiritualism, a religion that placed belief in the idea that the spirits of the deceased could be contacted. Some of her Spiritualist friends claimed to have seen, `Shadowy figures` around the mounds and one had a vision of a man on a white horse there. Mrs Pretty`s nephew a dowser, repeatedly detected the presence of buried gold form what is now known to be the ship-mound (32-33) reflecting a claim around 1900 by an elderly resident of Woodbridge, of `untoldgold` lying under the Sutton Hoo mounds. (34) such occurrences caught Mrs Pretty`s interest and in 1937 she decided to organize an excavations of the mounds. (34) Through the Ipswich Museum, she obtained the services of Basil Brown, a self-taught Suffolk archaeologist who had taken up full-time investigations of Roman sites for the museum, (35) in June 1938, Mrs Pretty took him to the site, offered him accommodation and a wage of 30 shillings a week, and suggested that he start digging at Mound 1, (36) because it had been disturbed by earlier grave diggers, Mr Brown, in consultation with Ipswich Museum, decided instead to open three smaller mounds (2, 3, & 4). These only revealed fragments artifacts as the mounds had been robbed of valuable items. (37) In Mound 2 he found iron ship-rivets and a disturbed chamber burial that contained unusual fragments of metal and glass artifacts. At first it was undecided as whether they were early Anglo-Saxon or viking objects. (38) The Ipswich Museum then became involved with the excavations, (39) all the finds became part of the museum collection.
In May 1939, Mr Brown began work on Mound 1, helped by Mrs Pretty`s gardener John (Jack) Jacobs, her gamekeeper William Spooner and another estate worker Bert Fuller. (40) (John Jacobs lived with his wife and their three children at Sutton Hoo house). they drove a trench from the east and on the third day discovered iron rivet which Mr Brown identified as a ship`s rivet (41) within hours others were found still in position. The colossal size of the find became apparent. After several weeks of patiently removing earth from the ship`s hull, they reached the burial chamber. (42)
the following month, Charles Phillips of Cambridge university heard rumours of a ship discovery. He was taken to Sutton Hoo by Mr Maynard, the Ipswich museum curator, and was staggered by what he saw, within a short time, following discussions with the Ipswich Museum, the British Museum, the Science Museum, and office of works, Mr Phillips had taken over responsibility for the excavation of the burial chamber. Initially, Mr Phillips and the British Museum instructed Mr Brown to cease excavating until they could get a team assembled but he continued working, something which may have saved the site from being looted by treasure hunters. (43) Mr Phillips team included W. F. Grimes and O. G. S. Crawford of the Ordinance Survey, Peggy and Stuart Piggott, and other friends and colleagues. (44)
The need for secrecy and various vested interests led to confrontation between Mr Phillips and the Ipswich Museum, in 1935-6 Mr Phillips and his friend Grahame Clark had taken control of the society. The curator, Mr Maynard then turned his attention to developing Mr Brown`s work for the museum. Mr Phillips, who was hostile towards the museums honorary president , Reid Moir, F. R. S., had now reappeared, and he deliberately excluded Mr Moir and Mr Maynard from the new discovery at Sutton Hoo. (45) after Ipswich Museum prematurely announced the discovery, reporters attempted to access the site, so Mrs Pretty paid for two policeman to guard the site 24hrs a day. (46) The finds, having been placed and removed to London, were brought back for a treasure trove inquest held that autumn at Sutton village hall, where it was decided that since the treasure was buried without the intention to recover it, it was the property of Mrs Pretty as landowner. (47) Mrs Pretty decided to bequeath the treasure as a gift to the nation, so that the meaning and excitement of her discovery could be shared by everyone. (48) When war broke out in September 1939, the grave-goods were put into storage, Sutton Hoo was used as a training ground for military vehicles. (49) until told otherwise they used track vehicles learner drivers to use the mounds for training ! Mr Phillips and colleagues produced important publications in 1940. (50)

Rupert Bruce-Milford : 1965-1971

he led a team and produced three volumes of Bruce-Milford`s definitive text. The Sutton Hoo burial published in 1975, 1978 & 1983. (51)

Martin Carver : 1983-1992

He continued with the work on the site but has left much of the area untouched for future work and with future scientific methods.

Exhibition Hall

the ship -burial treasure was presented to the nation by the owner, Mrs Pretty, and was at the time the largest gift made to the British Museum by a living donor. (52) the principle items are now permanently on display at the British Museum. A display of the original finds excavated in 1938 from mounds 2, 3, & $, and replicas of the most important items from mounds 1, can be seen at Ipswich Museum.
In the 1990s, the Sutton Hoo site, including the Sutton Hoo house, was given to the National Trust. At Sutton Hoo`s visitors centre and exhibition Hall, the newly found hanging bowl and the Bromewell Bucket, finds from the equestrian grave and a recreation of the burial chamber and its contents can be seen.
the 2001 Visitor Centre was designed by Van Heyningen and Haward Architects for the National Trust and involved the overall planning of the estate, the design of an exhibition hall and visitors facilities, car-parking and the restoration of a fine Edwardian house to provide additional facilities. (53)

Opening Times

April to October – open everyday.

November – week-ends.

December – week-ends plus the 27th-31st

1030hrs – 1700hrs Summer
1030hrs – 1600hrs Winter

Admission prices

Adult – £8-50p
Child – £4-30p
Family – £21.30p
Group adult – £6-05p
Group child – £3-10p

Cafe

There is a well stocked cafe, from snacks and meals.

Shop

There is a well stocked shop, particularly on items concerning the site.

There is a second hand bookshop situated in the old stables.

Walks

The walks around the site can be taken anytime as the site is always open and you can park in the car-park, there are two walks, also during the day when open and in the summer organized walks on the mound site, they are every hour.


 

WEST STOW

Icklingham road, West Stow, Nr Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, IP28-6HG

Tel 01284-728718

E-mail weststow@stedsbc.gov.uk

History

West Stow is a small parish in West Suffolk. The village lies north from Bury St. Edmunds in the area of Breckland, near the Lark river valley, being settled from around 420-650 A.D.
The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon
weste stow = “deserted place”

In 1965 a major archeaological dig was started lead by Dr Stanley West of West Suffolk archeaological unit which lasted until 1972. What was revealed was a well preserved Anglo-Saxon site saved beneath the sands of the Breckland. The finding by Dr West gave much of the knowledge that is now known of the area. The layout of the area gave much information of the way of life in this period of time, the area being set up with a large hall in the middle of the village with other houses and structures surrounding the hall. This suggested that this was a tight-knit community, with the villagers using the hall for things like feasts and story-telling. During the excavation 69 houses, 7 halls and 7 other structures were found.
This community lived with their extended families in their houses, with each house usually contained around 10 family members, the people of this area still traded with their former homeland across the North Sea, which can be seen by the glass in the knecklaces and other metals that were found at the site which were not produced locally. The Anglo-Saxon community that was found here was not the first settlers in the area. The remains of circular huts with ditched enclosures suggest occupation by Iron Age farmers, also found were tools suggesting that Mesolithic warriors hunted in the area, and burial grounds and cultivation which suggested a Neolithic settlement. A pagan Anglo-Saxon burial ground was also excavated. It was also noted that the village was abandoned and moved about a mile or so eastward to its present location following Christianisation.

Exhibits at West Stow

There are exhibits here which were formerly at the Moyse`s Hall Museum, ranging from the Stone Age up to the Anglo-Saxon period, being quite a large collection from finds of other archaeological digs around the area some way from West Stow village.

Farming techniques

This was another very interesting finding which deals with the farming aspects of this culture. This village and others like it replaced roman farms many of which were part of the collective approach of not only for local use, but for the Roman administration this really changed when and after the Roman left, Britain was now on its own.
The Anglo-Saxons settled in small villages that were generally self-sustaining. Within these self-sustaining communities there is evidence that these peoples were more likely to provide for themselves through farming than in foraging, it would not have been a great break from where they came from so would have continued with what they were farmers and this is what was found in the archaeological remains of more domesticated animal species than wild ones. the settlers in this area were thought to be from a different area, with Germanic descent being more likely and as such it is interesting to see what farming techniques this group may have employed, they more than likely to have copied the practices by the local Britains/Celts especially with animal husbandry.

Opening times

Summer 1000 hrs too 1700 hrs
last admission 1600 hrs

Winter 1000 hrs too 1530 hrs

Admission Charges

Adults – £6-00p

Children – £3-00p                                                                                                                                                                Concession  £4.00p                                                                                                                                                                        Family – £16-00p
family members up to 5

Shop and Cafe

They are both open during opening times and is a free entry.

Guide dogs only on the site.

Transport

car

there is car-park costing £2-00p for the day.

and for coaches costing £30-00p for the day.
if coach is booked it is free!

Train

The nearest station is Bury St. Edmunds

Bus

There is a service from Bury St. Edmunds service not known.