Purse Lid from the Sutton Hoo Burial Ship, c. 700, gold, enamel, garnets, The British Museum, London, Photo by profzucker, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution License.

The Sutton Hoo Burial Ship: Major Bling to Take to the Afterworld

In an eighty-six foot ship, an Anglo-Saxon tribe from the seventh century buried their king with a plethora of treasures that he could use as he navigated the afterworld.

During this period, as the Byzantine Empire was thriving in the East, various tribes, all of which are the ancestors of modern day Europeans, were roaming around Western Europe.  These nomadic tribes created small, portable works of art with motifs that indicate contact with other tribes.

One of the many portable treasures from the Sutton Hoo burial ship is the lid for a purse that contained coins so that the king could pay his oarsmen in the hereafter.  The purse lid is made of gold, enamel, garnets, and originally had an ivory or bone background.  The beautiful design shows the many contacts the Anglo-Saxons made with other tribes and civilizations as it has a mixture of motifs from the Ancient Near East (human figures surrounded by wolves), the Vikings from Scandinavia (hawks or eagles), and the Irish, or Gaels (interlace patterns and ducks).

More Treasures from the Sutton Hoo Burial Ship

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