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Sutton Hoo—a rejoinder

  • R. L. S. Bruce-Mitford and John Allan

Dr Gordon Ward says that my paper ‘Sutton Hoo-Recent Theories’ is described by me as ‘embodying the official views about Sutton Hoo’ and ‘thus claims very particular authority’. What I said in fact was (op. cit., p. 1) that, since opposite opinions had recently been expressed on certain critical aspects of the find (Pagan or Christian ? Grave or Cenotaph ? English or Swedish ?),’ it is desirable that an official assessment of the issues should be offered to students, even though it cannot be regarded as final’. Anyone who can get into print can say what he likes about Sutton Hoo. Those officially engaged on the study and definition of the material naturally bear a greater responsibility for their utterances. They should also be acquainted with the facts, which not all commentators have been. By ‘official assessment’ I meant no more than that, as a sympathetic reader must at once have seen.

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1 ANTIQUITY, XXVI, 1952, 9.

2 Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and Natural History, vol. 25, part 1, 1949, published 1950, 1–78.

3 i.e. beyond those previously identified by Dr Allan as belonging to specific mints.

4 Its appearance in Suffolk and burial there would of course be later. (R.B.M.)

5 Dr Plenderleith and Dr Moss, of the British Museum Research Laboratory, have also pointed out to me that the phenomenon of ‘surface enrichment’ in antique gold, whereby the surfaces of gold-alloy will turn to pure or nearly pure gold, by the working out from the surfaces, over long periods of time, of other constituents of the alloy, renders deductions from surface appearance or analysis of surface scrapings, extremely precarious. Specific gravity tests are much more reliable as indications of the baseness or otherwise of antique gold coinage.

6 See R. L. S. Bruce-Mitford, ‘Saxon Rendlesham’, Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology.

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