Sutton Hoo welcomes monumental treasure into collection

By Culture24 Staff | 19 October 2009
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a photo of a carved stone face with an ornamental crown, ring and deer

The reconstructed Sceptre from the Sutton Hoo Ship Burial

After Birmingham Museum's breathtaking temporary display of the Staffordshire Hoard, the National Trust at Sutton Hoo have this week revealed their own treasure – a modern remake of the Royal Sceptre from the Sutton Hoo finds.

Suffolk stonemason and sculptor Brian Ansell was commissioned by the National Trust in February 2009 to carve a replica of the sceptre, which was found in 1939 among numerous treasures at the Royal Anglo-Saxon burial site.

The detailed replica will be added to the life-sized reconstruction of the burial chamber in the Exhibition Hall and used as part of a handling collection to help visitors learn more about the Anglo Saxon treasures discovered 70 years ago.

"We have gained insights into the mind of the original carver and his patron," says Brian. "The quality of work is extremely accomplished and during the process I have learned to respect my fellow mason who carved the original more than 1,000 years ago."

a photo of a man with a beard

Suffolk stonemason and sculptor Brian Ansell

The 1939 Sutton Hoo discovery revealed an array of Royal treasures, often referred to as "East Anglia’s Crown Jewels". Many experts believe they once belonged to the Anglo Saxon King Raedwald.

Now residing in the British Museum, the collection has offered an unparalleled window into the minds and culture of the Anglo-Saxons.

Sutton Hoo's reconstructed sceptre consists of a huge whetstone with four sombre faces carved onto each end, which Brian has been carving in his workshop, enabling visitors to see first hand the tools and skills involved in Anglo-Saxon craftsmanship.

"I have used a basic kit of masonry tools to complete the task in hand, including a handful of fine carving chisels for the more delicate work," adds Brian, who has given his time voluntarily at the Museum.

"It's a tool kit which would have been used by the Romans, and therefore fairly authentic to what would have been used to make the original sceptre."

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