Sutton Hoo treasure returning home

ONE of the priceless treasures found at the Sutton Hoo burial site is returning home to feature in a new exhibition.The mysterious Celtic "hanging bowl" is being loaned from the British Museum to launch the new season at the National Trust centre at the site, believed to be the resting place of Raedwald, Saxon king of East Anglia, and his ship.

ONE of the priceless treasures found at the Sutton Hoo burial site is returning home to feature in a new exhibition.

The mysterious Celtic "hanging bowl" is being loaned from the British Museum to launch the new season at the National Trust centre at the site, believed to be the resting place of Raedwald, Saxon king of East Anglia, and his ship.

Archaeologists and historians have been unable to agree on the use of the fragile 1,500 year old bowl – though it may have served in pagan religious ceremonies.

A hanging bowl was highly decorated with enamels and made of metal and suspended by leather cords or chains threaded through attached side loops.

Most found date from the 5th to the first half of the 7th century – Raedwald is thought to have died around 625AD.

Historians say the flattened rim of the bowl would prevent the pouring of any liquid with any accuracy.

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It could have been a type of feasting bowl to hold trinkets – as in the Saxon poem Beowulf – or possibly held holy water.

Hanging bowls have been found in both pagan and Christian settings.

The Sutton Hoo one is thought to be Celtic, made of 1mm thick metal. It is decorated with intricate Celtic swirls, typical of art from the Iron Age, and on the inside has a rotating bronze fish.

It was possibly made by a Celtic craftsman working in East Anglia, or the Anglo-Saxons borrowing imagery they found and liked when they arrived. It has been repaired by an Anglo-Saxon craftsman.

It will form part of the new exhibition "Celts and Saxons – The Mystery of the Hanging Bowls", which focuses on the impact of the Anglo-Saxon invaders on the local community and how this was reflected through the art of the intruders.

British Museum Curator Sue Youngs will be holding a private view of the exhibition and lecture on March 18 at 7.30pm.

Tickets are £10.50 and booking is essential on 01394 389737.

The exhibition then opens to the public on March 19 – admission is adult £5, child £2.50. National Trust members free.

A new quilt interpreting the Sutton Hoo story in textiles, created by textile artist and teacher Kim Shaw, from Swilland, will be hanging in the attraction's restaurant this summer.

The quilt, a depiction of the Anglo-Saxon ship on the mudflats of the Deben during a thunderstorm at sunset, was one of 30 on show at the centre last year and was purchased by the National Trust.

Property Manager Kate Sussams says "The National Trust is delighted to own this magnificent piece of textile art, and we hope that all our visitors will take the time to look closely at and admire Kim's quilt."

A second quilt exhibition will take place between September 17 and October 13. For further details please ring Nancy Waterfall on 01394 389727.

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