Secrets of England’s greatest treasure trove

Struck gold: This amazing armour was made for Anglo Saxon kings. © Sutton Hoo visitor centre

A new exhibition of 600 objects valued at £3.28m is to highlight the dazzling artistic creations of the Anglo-Saxons and the lessons we can learn from their way of life, 1,400 years on.

What’s happening

In 2009, Terry Herbert was metal detecting in a field when he uncovered a long lost world. He had found buried treasure.

There were over 600 carefully decorated gold crosses, helmets, and pieces of armour. The collection of Anglo-Saxon metalwork will go on display at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk in May.

Find out more

The last Roman soldiers left Britain in AD 410. After that, new people came across the North Sea from Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands. They were the Anglo Saxons.

The Anglo-Saxons were wonderful craftsmen. Jewellers made stunning ornaments from gold, gemstones, and glass. Metalworkers made decorated tools, knives, and swords. Soldiers took these with them on their many battles.

They lived very sustainably. Everything on the farm had a purpose: food was homegrown, clothes were made of natural materials, and they kept their own livestock. Life was tough: all the family – men, women, and children – had to help out. Everyday tasks included herding cattle and sheep, and keeping a lookout for wild wolves.

Can we learn from the Anglo-Saxons?

Some say…

They were called the Dark Ages for a reason. The Anglo-Saxons were extremely violent. There were almost constant battles between different tribes, and they even believed that if a man was killed, his relatives had to avenge him. The average life expectancy was 30 because famines and disease were common. We should put the past behind us.

Others think…

Of course, we can! The Anglo-Saxons wasted nothing. They made their own food and clothes, and used every part of any animal they killed. Conscious of how they affected the land, they lived in wooden houses rather than stone ones. Living together in large groups, they knew the importance of community. These are all important lessons for modern life.

You Decide

  1. Can there be treasure that is not worth a lot of money?

Activities

  1. Imagine you discovered buried treasure in the playground during break time. Write to your friend describing what it looked like, and how you felt finding it.

Some People Say...

“I ransack public libraries, and find them full of sunk treasure.”

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

What do you think?

Word Watch

Sutton Hoo
Sutton Hoo is an area around the River Debden in Suffolk. In 1939, archaeologists discovered a ship buried in a mound. They believe it was a memorial to an Anglo-Saxon king.
Roman
The Romans first arrived in Britain in AD 43. They conquered much of what is now modern England, and remained for nearly four hundred years. In AD 410, the city of Rome was under attack and they had to return to defend the Empire.
Sustainably
Doing something in a way that avoids using up natural resources. Recycling is sustainable because it makes sure materials are reused rather than thrown away.
Wild wolves
When the Anglo-Saxons arrived on its shores, Britain was home to thousands of wild wolves. By the time of Henry VII, they had become extinct due to hunting forests being destroyed.
The Dark Ages
This refers to the period between the Romans leaving and William the Conqueror arriving. Some people called this time ‘dark’ because they thought there was no scientific and cultural advancement. However, many historians have rejected this as untrue.
Life expectancy
The age that a person is expected to live until.
Famines
When there is extreme lack of food.

Subjects

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