The Sutton Hoo Research Project 1983-2001

Martin Carver, 2004

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Martin Carver (2004) The Sutton Hoo Research Project 1983-2001 [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]


Sutton Hoo is an archaeological site in Suffolk, south-east England (National Grid Reference TM 288 487), famous for the Anglo-Saxon ship burial discovered there in 1939.

Investigations at the site since 1939 have revealed:

  • Field boundaries and farming activities from the NEOLITHIC, BEAKER (Early Bronze Age), Later BRONZE AGE and IRON AGE;
  • Cemeteries of the EARLY MEDIEVAL period (sometimes Dark Age, locally termed ANGLO-SAXON), dating between the 6th and the 12th centuries AD;
  • MEDIEVAL and POST-MEDIEVAL agricultural and cultural events including two campaigns of (unrecorded) exploratory digging in the 16th and 19th centuries.

Together the results offer a 5000 year sequence through a landscape of rural England.

There have been three main campaigns of scientific investigation:

  • Excavations in 1938-1939 by the landowner of Mound 1 (ship burial) and Mounds 2-4
  • Excavations in 1965-71 by the British Museum, including the re-excavation of Mound 1 and investigations of Mound 5 and the prehistoric site.
  • Survey and excavation 1983-2001 by the Sutton Hoo Research Trust, comprising intensive surveys of the locality and the excavation of one hectare of the burial ground. Excavation defined many hundreds of features of the prehistoric sequence (c3000-0 BC), Mounds 2, 5-7, 13-14, 17-18 (7th century AD) and two execution cemeteries (8-12th century AD).

Discoveries made between 1938 and 1971 have been published as:

R.L.S. Bruce-Mitford The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial (British Museum Press, 3 Vols: 1975, 1978, 1983) and
I Longworth and I Kinnes Sutton Hoo Excavations 1966, 1968-70 (British Museum Occasional Paper No. 23, 1980),
and a summary volume is A. C. Evans The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial (British Museum Press, 1986)

The results of the 1983-2001 research campaign are published as:

M.O.H. Carver Sutton Hoo. A seventh-century princely burial ground and its context (British Museum Press, 2005). This is the RESEARCH REPORT, containing a description and interpretation of all the discoveries made at Sutton Hoo up to 2001. A summary volume is M.O.H. Carver Sutton Hoo. Burial Ground of Kings? (British Museum press 1998).

The SITE TODAY is owned and managed by the National Trust for England and Wales. It has some 14 visible burial mounds (three of them reconstructed) and a Visitor Centre opened by Seamus Heaney in 2002. Contact:

THIS WEBSITE contains the FIELD REPORTS that provide the analytical backing for the Research Report. The FIELD RECORDS, or primary records made in the field are to be found at the British Museum.

(Text by Martin Carver)

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