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Royal Anglo-Saxon settlement found


The excavation in the 1930s of the Sutton Hoo site in Suffolk

The excavation in the 1930s of the Sutton Hoo site in Suffolk

The excavation in the 1930s of the Sutton Hoo site in Suffolk

A lost settlement which housed the Anglo-Saxon royalty who created the famous Sutton Hoo burial mounds has been unearthed.

Archaeologists say they have found conclusive evidence of the high-status settlement in fields near the village of Rendlesham, Suffolk.

It is thought fragments of gold jewellery, Saxon pennies and weights associated with trade, are evidence of the "the king's country-seat of Rendlesham" mentioned by the Venerable Bede in the 8th century.

Professor Christopher Scull, of Cardiff University and University College London said: "The survey has identified a site of national and indeed international importance for the understanding of the Anglo-Saxon elite and their European connections.

"The quality of some of the metalwork leaves no doubt that it was made for and used by the highest ranks of society.

"These exceptional discoveries are truly significant in throwing new light on early East Anglia and the origins of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms."

Sutton Hoo is the site of two 6th and early 7th century cemeteries, one of which contained an undisturbed ship burial including a wealth of artefacts and is considered one of the great discoveries of the 20th century.

It is widely believed that King Raedwald, ruler of the East Angles, was buried there.

It has long been thought that Kind Raedwald's hall stood in Rendlesham.

A team of mine-detector users have been working on the farmland for the last five years after landowner, Sir Michael Bunbury, became concerned about nighthawks.

Aerial photography, chemical analysis and geophysics were also used in the search.

The newly discovered 50-hectare sites is four miles north-east of Sutton Hoo

No remains of any royal palace or buildings have been found but the fragments of jewellery and coins have convinced archaeologists that it was the site of a royal village, the National Trust said.

Other items found include metal offcuts from a smith's workshop.

Richard Smith, a cabinet member at Suffolk County Council, said: "From the start it was clear that this site produced exceptionally important finds that could relate to the royal settlement cited in Bede, the combination of the exemplary work by the detector users with other survey methods is allowing us to build a detailed picture of past activity, including international trade and fine metalworking."

The National Trust will host a small exhibition of about 70 finds beginning on Saturday at its Sutton Hoo visitor centre. The items will later be moved to Ipswich Museum.

Martin Payne, the National Trust's learning and interpretation officer at Sutton Hoo, said: "It is a unique and exciting opportunity to find out about how those kings and their dependents spent their days and lived their lives."

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