Anglo-Saxon artefacts feature in new exhibition at Sutton Hoo

Sutton Hoo and the Staffordshire Hoard

Anglo-Saxon artistry has been brought to the fore in a new exhibition combining some of the most important early medieval discoveries made in this country.

The royal ship burial from Sutton Hoo’s Mound 1, excavated in 1939, transformed our understanding of a period previously dismissed as the Dark Ages, with its extraordinary artefacts testifying to creative virtuosity and far-reaching cultural connections. Meanwhile, the Staffordshire Hoard, which was unearthed in 2009 (see CA 236, 276, 297, and 290) represents the largest cache of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver ever found. Its contents are mainly weaponry fittings from 100-150 different swords, and may have been war booty associated with rival kingdoms battling for power in the 7th century. Tantalisingly, some of the objects display similarities in design and craftsmanship with certain of the Sutton Hoo artefacts, suggesting that they may have been made in the same East Anglian workshops. Now objects from both discoveries, together with other Anglo-Saxon finds from across East Anglia, have gone on display in a newly opened exhibition of 60 original artefacts at Sutton Hoo. Swords of Kingdoms: The Staffordshire Hoard at Sutton Hoo is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and New Anglia LEP, and objects on display have been loaned by Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, the British Museum, and Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery.

An ornate hilt collar from a seax, and a silver pommel cap with traces of gilding, both from the Staffordshire Hoard. IMAGES: The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

The exhibition runs until 30 October 2022, and tickets need to be booked in advance at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/suttonhoo. Entry to Swords of Kingdoms is via a timed ticket included in the site entry ticket, which is free for National Trust members.

Stonehenge and Japan

This September, the worlds of Neolithic Britain and Jōmon-period Japan are set to meet at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, thanks to an upcoming exhibition recently announced by English Heritage.

Circles of Stone: Stonehenge and prehistoric Japan will explore settlements and stone circles of the middle and late Jōmon periods, which are contemporary with the construction and use of Stonehenge, as well as featuring objects that have never before been displayed outside Japan. Highlights include a flame pot – an elaborately decorated type of Jōmon pottery whose name comes from its shape, which resembles flickering fire. Visitors will also be able to see fragments of clay figurines called dogū. These are thought to have represented earth goddesses or spirits, for use in fertility or healing rituals in prehistoric Japan, and they may have been intentionally broken and dispersed.

The exhibition will open on 30 September and runs until August 2023. Admission is free to Stonehenge ticket holders, English Heritage and National Trust England members, and local residents, as well as education groups. It is an English Heritage partnership project with the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, and is supported by the Ishibashi Foundation. See www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge/things-to-do/exhibitions/circles-of-stone for more details.