The discovery of a burial ship and its treasures just before World War II was the archaeological find of the century, being the most important medieval grave ever unearthed in Europe. As told in the film, The Dig, the landowner handed over all of the contents to the British Museum, making it one of the most generous gifts that the museum has ever received. These objects are on display in the museum in London, which is free for all to visit.

People looking into a display case
Part of the Sutton Hoo display in the British Museum

Sutton Hoo is a coastal site in Suffolk on the east coast of England, where the most incredible discovery was made. Landowner Mrs Edith Pretty asked local archaeologist Basil Brown to excavate some unusual mounds on her land, and he unearthed the imprint of a huge, 27 foot long wooden ship which had been buried under the largest of the mounds.

A black and white photo of the dig at Sutton Hoo
The discovery of the ship in 1939

Although the wood had eroded to nothing, the imprint and iron rivets remained. Within the centre of the ship, they discovered a chamber filled with treasures, showing that this was a very high status burial, probably that of a king.

The burial took place around 600AD, when England was separate Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, and King Raedwald was King of the East Anglian tribes.