Or – for another take – here’s John O’Farrell, in his rather irreverant, utterly impartial history of Britain.
It was Raedwald’s ship that was buried, probably with him inside it, in a huge barrow at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk. This discovery in 1939 was an incredible breakthrough in the study of early Anglo Saxons… Raedwald had been burried in the same manner as the Anglo_Saxon literary hero Beowulf, entombed in a ship facing out to sea…Like the Ancient Egyptians the Anglo Saxons buried their Kings along with treasures and everyday objects, for even in 624, despite paying lip service to Christianity, these were still very much a pagan people worshipping Thw, the god of combat, Woden the God of Waar aand Thor, the God of Thunder (the Norse Gods)’
The Anglo Saxon King Raedwald is a fascinating, shadowy character who seemed to want to keep a foot in both Pagan and Christian camps. In this BBC essay Martin Carver tells the sensational story of the unearthing of Sutton Hoo (which turned out to be Britain’s richest ever grave) and vividly recreates the life, turbulent times, death and burial of Raedwald.
And theres a link too in where we are staging Ragnarok, in the atmospheric Hush House on Bentwaters Park. Bentwaters is in Rendlesham, which was once the Royal Residence of the Anglo Saxon kings (the Wuffinga or Wuffings). So as we re-create the halls of Asgard we do so within a hammers throw of the banqueting halls of the Anglo Saxon kings.
Here’s Ivan again – this time bringing both these strands together – whilst chatting with Foz on BBC Radio Suffolk:-
I’ve been wanting to do this show ever since we did the Wuffings – which explored the background behind Sutton Hoo which I think is at the heart of East Anglia. Ever since we did that show we’ve realised that the Northern Gods were in a sense part of our birth right. They are in the soul and DNA of this region
Brothers will fight
Bringing death to each other
Sons of sisters
Will split their kin bonds.
Hard times for men,
Ages of axes, ages of swords,
Wind age, wolf age
Until the world falls into ruin’
(The Prose Edda, The Sibyl’s Prophecy)
(photos from the rehearsal room by Drew Taylor and Matthew Linley)