British Museum New Gallery 41: Sutton Hoo

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  kimilynn76 4 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #16180


    Today, 5 April 2014, I was in London to see the Viking exhibit, the new Sutton Hoo exhibit and also to head out to Greenwich for the Turner painting exhibit. I'll post about the Vikings on another thread. Sutton HooThose of us that have gotten to those sections of the podcast will enjoy the new exhibit. Gallery 41 is open to the public free of charge at the British Museum. Near the old section on British history for those that are previous visitors. There is no additional charge and this is not a special exhibit. It will continue to be there. Upon entering the hall one is struck by the center piece of the exhibit, the restored Anglo-Saxon helmet. It is indeed striking! To the left side of it is the mock up off what it would look like if it were new. It too is amazing. But I am more impressed with the real thing than the fake. I am glad that they took the time to showcase the helmet. In each corner of the room there is something that they focus in on. The first corner is on some items found in the grave. There are two glass goblets (picture attached). I am always amazed by the glassware of the ancient world. I saw a lot of glass bottles in Lyon at the Roman museum there and was amazed by them. I always have been interested in glass, so to see the ancient glassware, some of it intact, always amazes me. Sadly these goblets were not intact, but had been restored. Truly they are beautiful. A lot of attention is paid to metal work. But glass has to all be created when molten. Metal pieces can be worked with cold metal. So you get 2nd chances and can take your time. Glass is a one shot deal. To see that the ancients were able to work with a very hot and fragile substance is extremely cool. We often skip over glass. I am glad they had some to show. There are examples of the swords and decorations, there are many jewelry examples. There is also a discussion of Edith Pretty and the find. There is no mention that this could be the burial site of Raedwald. Just that it was a burial site. There are photos of the boat being excavated. There is in fact very little to put this into a historical context at all. Other than to say that the Anglo-Saxons were between the Romans and the Vikings. I should also mention that there were some lovely feasting platters and utensils displayed as well. Some discussion about feasting, not too much about what it meant. Of course there is also a display of the great buckle (also pictured) and some discussion about it along with a few other pieces of metal work. I gushed a short time ago about glass. But this too is an amazing piece of work. It is very complicated and well created. The craftsmanship is truly remarkable. My picture does not do justice to it! I spoke with one of the docents and he told me "we dumbed it down a little to make it more accessible to more people." But he did express frustration with that and thought it left too much out. If you are swimming in a pool of AEthel....Oswei... and other Ango-Saxon names, fear not. You won't see any mention of a name. Nor much of a mention of a kingdom. Later that day I was in Greenwich market and ran into an author of childrens books we he uses cats as the main characters. I bought two of his books (Spartapus and Boudicat). He had a bunch of other titles and we talked about how he had more detailed history in his cat fiction stories than the BM has in some exhibits. I know that sounds a little negative, but I do not mean to be. It is a really good exhibit. It was a great refresh of the Ango-Saxon treasures. If you have been in these rooms before they were mostly medium sized glass cabinets filled with stuff. This is a great improvement, but the detailed history is not going to be there for us history geeks. But the docents love to answer questions. My accent of course gives me away and the docent was surprised that an American would know so much, including names, places, kingdoms, etc. I myself feel lost in the Ango-Saxon era. I know Rome well and I have a good knowledge after the Conquest. But am really a novitiate of the Anglo-Saxon era. All that I really have learned I learned from Jamie and the BHP. The docent's compliments reflect well on BHP! So go!!!Do see it!!  BTW no trip to the BM is complete without stopping in the book store. I purchased A Brief History of the Anglo-Saxons by Geoffrey Hindley. Started browsing it on the DLR out to Greenwich. Looks interesting!

  • #19974


    Thank you so much for writing such a great review and even getting some pics of the artifacts!  I've shared it on the Facebook community, so hopefully more people will see it.  :)

  • #19975


    I remember exploring that gallery while I was in London last year. I was lucky enough to handle one of the pieces from it. They had a docent volunteer who would let you touch one of the pieces under supervision. I may have a picture somewhere in my photo archives. It was so fascinating to see. I wish I had known more about the find before I went there. I think I would have appreciated it more.

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