EBK Activity Sheets


Buried Treasure of Mysterious King?

King Tappa of Taplow
  • Before the discovery of the ship burial at Sutton Hoo, the most spectacular Saxon burial found in Britain was from Taplow in Buckinghamshire. It is near Maidenhead.
  • In the old churchyard in Taplow was a very large mound. It was commonly called 'Tappa's Tump'. A yew tree grew on the top.
  • In 1883, some local people decided to tunnel into the mound to look for 'antiquities' (artefacts or finds). There were no archaeologists in those days, only collectors of old objects called 'antiquaries'.
  • In the mound, they found a very rich grave, probably of a king.
  • The King had died in the 7th century and was buried on a feather mattress in a wooden room, built under the mound.
  • His body lay facing the east, like a Christian grave.
  • He wore a tunic decorated with gold and a massive gold and garnet (red gemstone) buckle. He also had a sword.
  • The King had lots of items with him to take to the afterlife:
    • Gold decorated drinking horns, cups and green glasses, (click for pictures) for feasting in his great hall.
    • Big cooking pots and storage jars.
    • Several weapons.
    • A lyre (like a harp) for his minstrel to play.
    • A board-game to play in his spare-time.
    • An expensive bowl and stand imported from Byzantium (Greece).
  • The antiquaries did not record their finds properly. So we don't know much about how the King's burial was laid out.
  • The yew tree collapsed into the mound and destroyed it! So it cannot be looked at again.
  • Taplow is named after the mound. It means 'Tappa's Mound'. Tappa may have been the name of the King, or he may just have been someone who later owned the mound and the land around it.
  • Tappa may have ruled a lost kingdom called 'Norrey' (meaning North Kingdom). This would have covered Buckinghamshire and possibly Middlesex. It had a sister-kingdom across the River Thames called 'Surrey' (meaning South Kingdom). Or he may have ruled Sunningum in Berkshire.
  • Activity Sheet available.


    Nash Ford Publishing 2005. All Rights Reserved. Suitable for National Curriculum History Key Stage 2.