Another Sutton Hoo!
Local historian David Burnett made an unexpected discovery while researching a new book. He uncovered evidence that suggests an Anglo Saxon noble was buried on what is now an industrial site at Chilton.
He tells the story in Chilton - the first three thousand years which Sudbury Museum trust is publishing on Saturday(19th) with a book signing launch at Sudbury Library. The evidence is a large ceremonial bronze bowl in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford recorded as having been found close to Chilton Hall in 1861.
Known as a Coptic bowl, it came from an Anglo-Saxon grave excavated by Victorian amateur archaeologist Sir John Evans near Chilton Hall but the exact location is unknown. The large, shallow bowl is similar to one found in the famous 7th century ship burial at Sutton Hoo but in much better condition. These Coptic bowls from the eastern Mediterranean are thought to have been used in a ceremony such as the washing of hands. ‘It is a high status object and raises the intriguing possibility that someone important was buried in Chilton.' said David who is secretary of the Sudbury Museum Trust and author of other books including a history of Brundon. ‘The very name of the village comes from its Old English place name of Ciltona which is found in a number of counties and usually translated as ‘the farm or estate of the young noble man. Perhaps another Sutton Hoo is awaiting discovery.' Interestingly Suffolk County Council excavations in 1996/7 revealed traces of a Saxon building between the new Sudbury Health Centre and St Mary's Church.
The profusely illustrated book opens with the village's Iron Age people and ends with summer wedding this year, covering along the way the Domesday survey, speculation over the lost village, and the vain fight to prevent Sudbury annexing part of the parish in 1986. At the present time it faces the biggest change in its history - the Chilton Woods development of 1,250 homes. Two constants have been the presence of St Mary's Church and Chilton Hall as the heart of the village though both have undergone many changes. The book includes research by three generations of the Herbert/English family who lived at the Hall for much of the 20th century.
The lives of ordinary people over the centuries are mingles with the dramas of kidnap, poisoning, an exorcism and the wife of a parish council chairman gathering up the severed head of a young pilot in her apron. That was before the impact of WWII when the quiet village had to cope with the invasion of the 486th American Army Bomb Group. There's culture too in the lives and work of artist Paul Earee and poet Norman Bentley whose bitter poem No Glorious Dead was used as the title for earlier Sudbury Museum Trust book.
The new book sells at £8.95 and will be available from Saturday at Kestrel bookshop in Friars Street, the Tourist Office in Sudbury Library, Landers bookshop in Long Melford and Great Waldingfield Post Office. David will be signing copies at Southend Library on the 19th from 10am-1pm.