EBK Activity Sheets


How do we know it was there at all?
  • Before Victorian times, ships were always made of wood. Wood rots when it is put in the ground. So how do we know about the Sutton Hoo ship?
  • The type of sand in the soil at Sutton Hoo is very unusual. When things rot in it, they can leave their shape in the soil. 
  • It looks like a dark stain. This can be excavated if you are very careful. This was what happened in 1939.
  • Look at the picture. The photographer is standing at one end of the ship, looking towards the other end. You can easily see the planks which the ship was made of.
  • You can also see lines of dots in the picture. These are the iron rivets which held the planks together.
  • The ship was 90ft long.
  • The archaeologists could also see patches on the ship's hull. So the ship was not new when it was buried. It had been to sea and had been repaired.
  • It does not seem to have had a mast or a sail. It was rowed by men with oars. There were probably 28 of them.
  • It had a big triangular wooden chamber in the centre - like half a tube of toblerone. This was where the dead person's possessions were found.
  • The ship had probably been dragged to Sutton Hoo, on rolling logs, from the nearby River Deben.
  • Another ship burial had been discovered at Snape, only 9 miles away, in 1862. Viking ship burials have been found in Norway too; and there were other ship burials in the mounds at Sutton Hoo.
  • The 'Beowulf' poem tells of a ship funeral. The ship was not buried, but sent out to sea.
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    Text Nash Ford Publishing 2003. All Rights Reserved.