This Anglo-Saxon Primary History Resource The Saxon King – The Story of Sutton Hoo is a musical about one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever found in Britain.  This musical is a fascinating and incredible journey that joins together two turbulent times in England’s long history.

Anglo-Saxon Primary History Resource – The discovery

One summers evening in 1939 Mrs Pretty and Mr Redstone are sitting in their garden an see what appears to be ghostly figures rising above the mounds in the distance and decided to excavate to see if there was anything there. 

There was!

They found what we now call the remarkable Anglo-Saxon treasure of Sutton Hoo.

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Anglo-Saxon Primary History Resource – The Ghost Ship

Anglo-Saxon Primary History Resource  adrawing of an Anglo-Saxon burial shio

Buried in the soil was a huge, ancient, wooden, ocean-going ship, reduced by time to shadowy shapes divided by metal ship rivets, still held in position by the soil.

The discovery was covered in national newspapers and hailed as one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever made in Britain.

Anglo-Saxon Primary History Resource – The Treasure

It appears that buried in the ship was the remains of an Anglo-Saxon warrior king along with all his wealth. Gold, silver, ornate swords, armour, fragments of fine cloths from Syria, a North African bowl, even his horses and food were buried with him for his journey to the Afterlife.

Unfortunately, the dead king’s body itself, however, was missing; all that remained was a ghostly, chemical trace imprinted in the soil. Even the bones themselves had eroded into nothing.

Anglo-Saxon Primary History Resource – Who was the king?

The experts think he was Raedwald, a powerful Anglo-Saxon king, who is mentioned in the ‘Ecclesiastical History of the English People’. A book written 300 years after the Anglo-Saxons arrived in Britain by a monk called Bede.

Anglo-Saxon Primary History Resource – Treasure Trove

Many items were recovered from the burial mounds at Sutton Hoo, but it is the items from mound 1 that are the most sumptuous. These included:

Anglo-Saxon Primary History Resource  a coloured drawing of an Anglo-Saxon horn

  • The famous ceremonial helmet.
  • A majestic pattern welded sword.
  • A huge shield.
  • Jewellery, such as broaches and shoulder clasps.
  • Two buckets made from toxic Yew wood.
  • Tableware, such as plates and spoons.

Fragments of rich cloths that only survived where they were in contact with, or wrapped around, metal objects. These were clothes such as cloaks, wall hangings and coverlets.

Anglo-Saxon Primary History Resource – The Real Treasure

The actual benefit, which was the real treasure, was those things that we learnt about Anglo-Saxon England, something much greater than the value of the items found.

Suddenly, the historians learnt a huge range of things about a time of which, until then, archaeologists and historians knew little.

Anglo-Saxon Primary History Resource – The musical The Saxon King – The Story of Sutton Hoo

Anglo-Saxon Primary History Resource  the fornt page of the musical The Saxon KingThe Saxon King – The Story of Sutton Hoo is a fictional account of the discovery of the Anglo-Saxon treasure at Sutton Hoo and how the treasure and its owner came to be buried there.  The show is constructed using information on the Anglo-Saxons, the treasure itself and what is known about its discovery. The rest of the show is written using events as chronicled in Bede’s ‘Ecclesiastical History of the English People’, one of the only accurate accounts of the history of the Anglo-Saxons.

The Saxon King – The Story of Sutton Hoo is a fun, action packed story of the ancient world and of archaeological success. It is constructed to be a vehicle by which children and adults can better understand the Anglo-Saxons and the processes by which we learn about our past.

You can download it at and be rehearsing it immediately.

It is all part of our vision to make history fun.