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Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon ship burial - footage of 1939 excavation


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Though this video is ostensibly about the sword found at Sutton Hoo, the footage of the excavation is fascinating. None of the timber survived - they figured out the shape of the ship, frames, planking and nails by following the discoloration in the sand of the burial mound. How's that for careful work! 

 

Steven

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A great tragedy of Sutton Hoo was that the painstaking work of the local archaeologist, Basil Brown, a self-taught but very talented amateur, who so carefully exposed the shape of the hull, and established the importance of the find, was all set at nought by the pompous academics of the time. 

 

Conscious of the chance for a healthy dose of glory, the big names muscled in on the project, trying to forbid further work until they had assembled a team of their own kind. Basil was relegated to pushing a wheelbarrow, and I am fairly certain that his name was not even mentioned in the first reports written by the claim-jumpers. 

 

The finds were donated to the British Museum by the landowner. 

 

As for how the shape of the ship was revealed without damaging it, that was obviously part of the under-appreciated skill of Basil Brown, and will be shown somewhere, as huge numbers of photographs were taken. 

 

A similar situation is unfolding today, with the wreck of the London, which blew up and sank in the Thames in 1665. Periodically uncovered then re-covered by drifting sand, the wreck was rediscovered some years ago, and contains many artefacts, some of which have been recovered by the finders, who formed a knowledgeable and motivated team of amateur marine archaeologists. Most regrettably, the continuance of excavation work has been banned by English Heritage while they argue for ever over who does what. In the meantime, valuable remains are being rapidly eroded: for example a complete gun carriage, which was visible, and then was washed away as officially nobody could touch it! 

 

All the best,

 

Mark P

Edited by Mark P
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  • 2 weeks later...

Watched the Netflix movie last night and liked it. Interesting story, really good cinematography and lighting, and Fienes’ depiction of Brown was excellent. The romantic side stories felt contrived and unnecessary. Wife, a true Anglophile, really enjoyed it.
 

Cheers,

 

Keith

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A bit of the history . . .

 

 

And here's a video from the people in the UK who are building a full-sized replica:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's their website - https://saxonship.org/?fbclid=IwAR2tmg3x4sTXGqSmQi60mBwmmIaJzlpQfs9BK1PWbSn9NkONbBwpwiF8gVQ

 

fascinating!

 

Steven

 

Edited by Louie da fly
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19 hours ago, Bob Cleek said:

I'm always amused by the custom of those times that the men so often wore white shirts, neckties, and coats when they did manual labor. Sometimes they wore shop aprons, but always the shirts and ties. 

 

 

 

If I remember correctly, the work foreman wore a brown "lab" coat and hat- flat cap or bowler to differentiate himself from the simple worker 

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On 1/29/2021 at 4:17 PM, Jim Lad said:

Amazing! I would have thought a movie about an archaeological dig would have limited appeal at best.

 

John

Isn't Raiders of the Lost Ark fundamentally a movie about an archaeological dig? 🙂

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  • 2 weeks later...

I finally got to see the movie "The Dig". Very good indeed, despite the unnecessary additions to the story.

 

Just a shame Basil Brown never lived to see that he finally got the credit for the discovery. They could have showed more of the treasure, though.

 

Apparently someone was engaged to make exact copies of the artefacts for the movie, and when they had them out on display I recognised most of them from having seen them "in the flesh". Unfortunately the helmet was in so many fragments when found that it couldn't possibly be shown in the movie.

 

Apparently Basil Brown excavated four of the mounds at Sutton Hoo, ending with the "big one" - something I hadn't been aware of.

 

Steven  

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