"Sutton Hoo: Burial Ground of Kings?"


Bookcover.jpeg

Martin Carver
$29.50 cloth; 224 pages; 126 illustrations

The Sutton Hoo ship-burial is one of the most significant archaeological finds ever made in Europe.

In the late 500s and 600s, an East Anglian kingdom along the southeastern coast of England created an extravagant pagan ceremonial center as an attempt to stem the rising tide of Christianity. One of the mounds contained an ancient ship used as a mausoleum, a tradition later associated with the Vikings.

Not only were techniques of early nautical architecture preserved, but archaeologists uncovered numerous one-of-a-kind artifacts that have enabled historians to reconstruct some of the ways people lived in ancient Britain. Along with the famous bronze helmet shown on the book's cover and currently on exhibit at the British Museum, textiles, a lyre, coins, jewely and cooking utensils have been removed from the mounds.

Martin Carver, Professor of Archaeology at the University of York, conducted the most recent excavation of the site and his book describes the entire archaeological history of the burial mounds, from their discovery in 1938 (with the rush to finish the excavation before World War II erupted) to today.

With a twinge of humor, Carver recalls the various archaeologists and scholars who have worked at Sutton Hoo, such as the historian Hector Munro Chadwick of Cambridge, "who had his wife drive him to the site at his preferred speed of 20 miles per hour." The book introduces the reader to modern archaeological techniques and shows how these methods have radically changed over the past half century.

"Sutton Hoo," as the reviewer for Choice magazine recently wrote, "is exceptionally well illustrated, delightfully readable, and extremely comprehensive...it will delight and inform all readers."

-University of Pennsylvania Press

Front page for this issue | Pennsylvania Current home page

Originally published on February 11, 1999