Art Spotted: Sutton Hoo Shoulder Clasp, Sutton Hoo

Shoulder clasp from the Mound 1 Sutton Hoo burial. Housed at the British Museum, London, England. 

In honor of London hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics happening right now, our Art Spotted post are the shoulder clasps from the Sutton Hoo burial chamber.  Though the Anglo-Saxon cemetery of Sutton Hoo actually contains many burials and cremations (including a number of execution burials where individuals died of hanging or decapitation), the most well known burial comes from Mound 1.  The burial is thought to be associated with the death of King Raedwald dated to circa 625 Common Era (CE).

Image showing the pin hinge and underside of one of the Sutton Hoo shoulder clasps. Photo courtesy http://www.flickr.com/people/robroy/

The shoulder clasps, made of gold with blue glass and garnet inlay, are the only Anglo-Saxon artifacts of this type to ever be documented.  Current research posits that the clasps are generally thought to have been attached to lightweight leather body armor or a textile based chest protector layered over a mail coat.  The curved ends are decorated with entwined wild boars, possibly to depict the wearer’s strength, courage, and ferocity.

Sutton Hoo Cemetery burial mounds, located in Suffolk. Photo courtesy of archeurope.com

There is no other Anglo-Saxon burial that has captured the world’s imagination like the remains from Mound 1.  If you even visit the British Museum in London, England, make sure to stop and view these one of a kind objects.

For more information visit the British Museum’s page on the Sutton Hoo shoulder clasps.  Click here!

An article written by Noel Adams details the debate over what type of material to which the clasps were attached.  Click here!

The British Museum also has an interactive “tour” page detailing some of the Sutton Hoo finds.  Click here!

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