Sutton Hoo Burial a Cenotaph?


    IN an account of the excavation of the Sutton Hoo ship-burial and of the associated antiquities delivered before the Society of Antiquaries of London on February 22 (see NATURE, Feb. 10, p. 231), Mr. C. W. Phillips referred to the remarkable feature of the deposit that it did not accompany a body. The explanation which he put forward on certain grounds was that the mound and its contents as a whole had the character of a cenotaph for a great man whose body could not be recovered, possibly through being lost at sea. One suggestion which has been offered, namely that it may have been a measure of insurance on the part of a recently Christianized pagan in an endeavour to make the best of both alternatives, is perhaps not to be taken seriously. Nevertheless survival of a pagan ritual, even in such an essential rite as burial, cannot be ruled out entirely; and it receives a certain amount of support from the archaic character of the ship, of which some further account was given.

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    Sutton Hoo Burial a Cenotaph?. Nature 145, 343 (1940).

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