adapted from a design by George Bain based on the Book of Kells home Programme Bookings Shop The Wuffings .
Wuffing Education

Dream-Ships of the Wuffings – Sutton Hoo and Snape

Sunset over the River Deben, 1994 (Sam Newton)s

with Dr Sam Newton

Sutton Hoo (map)
onSaturday, 13th November, 2010

We begin with a look at the geography of the south-eastern corner of the old East Anglian kingdom, before embarking on a consideration of the archaeology of the Wuffing ship- and boat-burial sites at Snape and Sutton Hoo. We shall then appraise the literary evidence for the rite of ship-funeral, focussing closely on the high culture perspective provided by the epic of Beowulf, the opening movement of which culminates with a splendid poetic account of a royal ship-funeral.

We shall chart something of the dynastic origin legend on which this account appears to be based as well as the ancient fertility myth from which it seems to derive.

We shall also see how the central narrative of the vessel that ferries the soul in and out of this middangeard, this mortal world, provided a parable through which folk could understand one of the big questions of life, which was to become a major theme in English literature.

Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 The Snape Ship-Burial  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.45 The Dream-Ship of Sutton Hoo  
  12.45 Lunch break  
  14:00 The Royal Rite of Ship-Funeral in Beowulf  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 The Soul’s Ferry: Old English Ship Symbolism and the Great Nautical Metaphor of Life  
  16:15 Close  

About Dr Sam Newton

Sam Newton was awarded his Ph.D at UEA in 1991 and is the author of The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia (1993) and The Reckoning of King Rædwald, (2003). He has lectured widely around the country and has contributed to many radio and television programmes, including Michael Wood on Beowulf and Digging for Britain with Dr Alice Roberts. Sam is also a Director of Wuffing Education, NADFAS lecturer, and Time Team historian.

Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

Alexander, M., The First Poems in English (Penguin Classics 2008)
Bruce-Mitford, R., Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology (Gollancz 1974)
Evans, A.C., The Sutton Hoo Ship-Burial (British Museum 1986)
Filmer-Sankey, W., & T.Pestell, Snape Anglo-Saxon Cemetery: Excavations and Surveys 1824-1992, East Anglian Archaeology Report 95 (Ipswich 2001).
Garmonsway, G., & J.Simpson (ed. & tr.), Beowulf and Its Analogues (Dent Everyman 1968, 1980)
Green, C., Sutton Hoo: The Excavation of a Royal Ship-Burial (Merlin 1963, 1968, 1988)
Heaney, Seamus (tr.) Beowulf: An Illustrated Edition, ed. J.Niles (Norton 2007)
Lee, S.D., & E.Solopova, The Keys of Middle-earth: Discovering Medieval Literature through the Fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)
Newton, S., The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia (Brewer 1993)
Newton, S., The Reckoning of King Rædwald (Redbird 2003)
Shippey, T.A., The Road to Middle-earth (Allen and Unwin, 1982; rev. edn HarperCollins, 2003)
Tolkien, J.R.R., The Lost Road and Other Writings, ed. C.Tolkien (Unwin Hyman 1987)
Tolkien, J.R.R., The Lord of the Rings (Allen & Unwin 1954, 1955, 1966, 1968, etc.)
Webster, L., and J.Backhouse, The Making of England: Anglo-Saxon Art and Culture AD 600-900 (British Museum 1991)
Wilson, R., The Lost Literature of Medieval England (Methuen 1952, 1970)


Please phone or email to check the availability of places.  Study Days are £38 per person, which includes a full day of lectures, access to the NT site, parking, coffee and tea throughout the day, and access to the NT exhibition.  Once you have reserved your place please send a cheque to confirm the booking. For your first booking please complete the application form to ensure that we have recorded your contact details correctly.

Wuffing Education,
4 Hilly Fields,
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4DX
(tel : 01394 386498)

Email cliff AT
(replace 'AT' by '@' in order to send email - we used 'AT' to avoid spam robots automatically sending us emails)

Return to list of current Study Days


We have learnt of the fame of the Wuffing folk-lords of long ago, of how those wolf-kings held the ancestral land of East Anglia....
Updated 21 October, 2010
Website by
Adroit Solutions Ltd