Mysterious Objects at Sutton Hoo.







  • There were two important and very unusual objects, leaning up against the wall at the head of the burial chamber in the ship burial at Sutton Hoo. No-one really knows what they are. They might be symbolic objects showing the importance of the person buried there.
  • The first object looks a bit like a hat-stand. It is a long iron rod, 172 cm long. At the top, small rods form a sort of basket, with a grille as a lid.
  • What do you think it might be?
    • Some historians think it was a standard, like those which the Romans used to carry in front of their armies.
    • Some historians think that flowers could have been put in the 'basket'.
    • The writer, Bede, says that King Edwin of Northumbria used something like this. He mentions a particular type of standard called a 'tufa,' but no-one knows what this looked like.
  • The second object was a highly decorated whetstone. A whetstone is what you sharpen the blades of swords or knives on. This one had not been used.
    • There are little faces carved at the top and bottom of the stone.
    • At one end, it has a bronze ring with a tiny deer on top.
    • Nothing like it has been found anywhere in the World.
  • What do you think it might be?
    • Most historians think it acted as a 'sceptre'. This is a hand-held rod showing that the owner was a king or queen.
    • Several 17th century sceptres are kept in the British Crown Jewels today.
  • There may have been a third object of power. A group of small golden decorative objects may have been mounted on an ivory staff. This has rotted away. One plaque was decorated with a wolf.
    Nash Ford Publishing 2003. All Rights Reserved. Suitable for National Curriculum History Key Stage 2.