England’s greatest Anglo-Saxon gold hoard coming to Sutton Hoo
PUBLISHED: 05:30 26 February 2020
The greatest Anglo-Saxon gold hoard ever found in England is heading to Suffolk this summer for the full launch of Sutton Hoo’s new visitor features.
The Staffordshire Hoard will be paying its first visit to the region in more than a millennium - experts believe that many of the pieces found buried in a Midlands field in 2009 may have been made in Suffolk.
The items will be on show in the exhibition centre at Sutton Hoo for six months from May as the main season starts at the attraction - and National Trust managers hope that the long-awaited viewing tower over the burial mounds should open in the summer.
This will be the first major new exhibition hosted at Sutton Hoo since the property reopened following a £4m transformation last year. Alongside the Staffordshire Hoard items, it will also see original objects from the famous 1939 dig at Sutton Hoo, on loan from the British Museum, displayed together with further Anglo-Saxon finds on loan from Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery.
The largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver ever found, the Staffordshire Hoard joined the Sutton Hoo Mound One discovery as one of the greatest Anglo-Saxon finds ever made and of a quality rarely seen when it was unearthed by a metal detectorist in a farmer's field in 2009.
Bearing remarkably similar details in design and craftsmanship as the treasures found at Sutton Hoo, it is now believed that many of the objects from the Staffordshire Hoard were made in the same seventh century East Anglian workshops as much of the gold and garnet cloisonné jewellery from Sutton Hoo.
Believed to have been buried between 650-675 in the kingdom of Mercia, the Staffordshire Hoard is predominantly made up of weaponry fittings and it is estimated that the fittings could have come from between 100-150 different swords. Their owners would have commanded in some of the great battles of the kingdom wars of seventh century Anglo-Saxon England.
This temporary exhibition has been put together by guest curator Chris Fern, an expert in the Staffordshire Hoard and will see a selection of items from the Hoard on display alongside finds from Sutton Hoo Mound One, found in 1939, such as one of the gold and garnet shoulder clasps, gold and garnet sword pyramids, three gold Anglo-Saxon coins and the gold sword belt buckle.
You may also want to watch:
These objects are all usually on display at the British Museum, having been donated to the nation by Sutton Hoo's then owner, Mrs Edith Pretty.
Mr Fern said: "It is wonderful to see these objects - the pinnacle of craftsmanship in their day, astounding in their artistic genius - returned to the kingdom of East Anglia where their story began.
"Through them we can glimpse a time when warriors and kings in widespread regional kingdoms fought for supremacy in an age of gold and of the coming of Christianity."
Housed in Sutton Hoo's temporary exhibition space, the display will sit alongside the permanent exhibition of both original and replica items.
Newly unveiled in August 2019, the Sutton Hoo permanent exhibitions followed the £4m project to completely transform and enhance how the story of the Anglo-Saxons who buried their royal dead is told alongside the stories of the people who went on to make the amazing discoveries centuries later.
Laura Howarth, Archaeology and Engagement Manager at Sutton Hoo said: "Seventy years separates the discoveries of Sutton Hoo and the Staffordshire Hoard, but both have illuminated our understanding of the culture and society of this golden age of Anglo-Saxon England.
"To be able to display these items from the Staffordshire Hoard alongside original treasures from Mound One here at Sutton Hoo is a dream come true and will mean that for the first time, we're able to see these objects alongside each other back in the region where we believe they were made 1,400 years ago.
"Whether you have been to Sutton Hoo before or are yet to discover it, this exhibition will offer a really special opportunity to see objects from these collections brought together at arguably the most famous of all Anglo-Saxon sites."
The exhibition supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund will see 62 original Anglo-Saxon objects on display, on loan from Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, the British Museum and Norwich Museum and Art Gallery.
Opening on May 14 Swords of Kingdoms: The Staffordshire Hoard at Sutton Hoo will be on display until November 29.