Each generation that encounters the Sutton Hoo Story sees it as if for the first time. At first it was a treasure, then it was an illustration of early kings and just lately it has become a window on England’s early years. There are now three cemeteries at Sutton Hoo, the first of a sixth-century wealthy family, the second a group of seventh century nation-builders celebrated in burial mounds and the last the sad disposal of eighth to tenth century execution victims, probably those who failed to conform to the new regime. These three cemeteries illuminate a changing world, provide us with new history. But they also reveal something of the actors, what they were expressing, the references they made to other countries, what they were thinking.
Martin Carver reinterprets the meaning of the great ship burial and the other burials made before and after it at Sutton Hoo, explores the connections its people had with the development of the kingdom of East Anglia, with Britain, Scandinavia, Europe and the Mediterranean. In pursuit of parallels with mound building and state building, as a coda, he pays a visit to Japan and the USA.