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Sutton Hoo and the Frankish Connection

Finds from the grave of the Frankish King Childeric (died 481AD) from Tournai

with Dr Sam Newton

at the Old Court, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday, 1st December 2012

St Eligius, or Éloi (died 1st December 660), was the goldsmith and jeweller of the Merovingian kings of the Franks. He worked as the royal goldsmith for Chlothar II (died 629), for whom he is said to have made two thrones for the price of one, then as treasurer for Chlothar’s son and successor, Dagobert I (died 638), and then Dagobert’s son and successor, Chlodevech (Clovis) II (died 656). He became Bishop of Noyon in 641 and was a pioneer apostle in Flanders. Later in his life he was counsellor to the Frankish queen-regent, Baldhild (died 30th January 680).1 After his death in 660, he soon came to be regarded as the patron saint of numismatists, goldsmiths, blacksmiths, and farriers.
Eligius’s work in gold and garnet is directly comparable to some of the astonishing early seventh-century treasure from Sutton Hoo, and his history may provide insights into the kind of folk who would have created it. On St Eligius’s festival-day, therefore, it is appropriate to examine some of these artistic connections and reappraise Anglo-Frankish history during the seventh century.

1. Baldhild was a former Anglo-Saxon slave-girl who later became queen, king-mother, regent, and finally saint, whose extraordinary career and possible East Anglian connections were highlighted by the discovery of part of her gold seal-ring near Norwich in April 1998.

Provisional Programme
(There may be variations to the programme on the day – all these subjects will be covered, but not necessarily in the advertised order.)
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 Sutton Hoo and the Frankish Connection.  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.45 A Brief History of the Franks.  
  12.45 Lunch break  
  14:00 St Eligius: Goldsmith, Treasurer, and Bishop.  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 Anglo-Frankish History in the Seventh Century.  
  16:20 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 as an independent scholar and has contributed to many radio and television programmes. He is also a Director of Wuffing Education, NADFAS lecturer, and Time Team historian.

Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

Bührer-Thierry, Geneviève, & Charles Mériaux, La France Avant La France (Éditions Belin 2010)
Carver, M.O.H. (ed.), The Age of Sutton Hoo: The Seventh Century in North-Western Europe (Woodbridge 1992).
Coatsworth, E., & M. Pinder, The Art of the Anglo-Saxon Goldsmith – Fine Metalwork in Anglo-Saxon England: Its Practice and Practitioners (Boydell 2002)
Dado, The Life of St Eligius, tr. Jo Ann McNamara, Medieval Sourcebook: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/eligius.asp
Evans, A., The Sutton Hoo Ship-Burial (British Museum 1986)
Farmer, D.H., The Oxford Dictionary of Saints (Oxford University Press, 1978).
Henderson, G., Early Medieval Style and Civilization (Pelican 1972)
James, E., The Franks (Oxford 1988)
James, E., Europe’s Barbarians AD200-600 (Pearson Longman 2009)
Lasko, Peter, The Kingdom of the Franks: North-West Europe before Charlemagne (Thames & Hudson 1971)
Myres, J., The English Settlements (Oxford 1986)
Speake, G., Anglo-Saxon Animal Art (Oxford 1980).
Webster, L., & J.Backhouse, The Making of England: Anglo-Saxon Art and Culture AD 600-900 (British Museum 1991)


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

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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 13 December, 2012
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