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Sutton Hoo and Beowulf*

  • Sune Lindqvist (a1)

Swedish archaeologists have followed with great excitement and the most lively interest the already numerous writings on the remarkable Sutton Hoo excavations of 1939 and the exceptionally significant objects that came to light there.

Much surprise was occasioned by the news of the Coroner's Inquest—something unfamiliar to Swedes—at which the legal title to the find was decided with the help of the passages in Beowulf describing the passing of Scyld and the lavish furnishing of Beowulf's memorial mound :-

‘They left the wealth of nobles to the earth to keep—left the gold in the ground, where it still exists, as unprofitable to men as it had been before’.

A Swedish court of law would probably not let itself be influenced by, shall we say, quotations from the Edda. When, however, it was a matter of getting past the English law's not very clearly thought out definition of Treasure Trove, there was certainly good reason, and especially in this instance, to cite Beowulf. For it is generally accepted that Beowulf was composed in about A.D. 700, that is to say, while many of those who had witnessed the burial at Sutton Hoo were still alive.

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Translated from the Swedish by R. L. S Bruce-Mitford, F.S.A.

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* Translated from the Swedish by R. L. S Bruce-Mitford, F.S.A.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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