Rendlesham lies only about 4 miles from Sutton Hoo, and yet it might just compete with the renowned Anglo-Saxon site in terms of sheer archaeological value. To that end, researchers have recently discovered the structural remains of a 23 m (75 ft) by 9 m (30 ft) building that could have been a royal hall or a palace-like construction. Faye Minter, the project co-ordinator from Suffolk County Council’s archaeological unit, also mentioned how this very same structure might have been referred to as a ‘palace’ by Venerable Bede, the famous English monk at the monastery of Saint Peter from circa early 8th century AD.
Historically the sites of Rendlesham and Sutton Hoo were intimately connected, since the latter was chosen as the burial place of the king at Rendlesham. As for its size, the site is spread over an area of 120-acre (50 hectare), and thus the remains of the structure in question were spotted with the aid of both aerial photography and geophysical surveys. Ms Minter made it clear (to BBC) –
We have discovered what we think is a large Anglo Saxon Hall, which could be the palace itself, if you could call it that. We’re convinced we’ve found a royal settlement of very high status, and I suppose it would be a large hall rather than a palace as it would spring to mind to us.
Now as we mentioned in one of our previous articles, the royal hall (or heall in Old English) was the focus of social activity for high-ranking warriors, with the structure’s central location within a lord’s estate. In fact, in many cases, the heall was the residence of the lord (or king) and some members of his hearthweru (household) royal guards. Suffice it to say, the hall with its large open space and central fireplace, became the hub where these high-ranking warriors feasted, drank, planned battles, and even argued and fought. These activities were often complemented by recreational stuff, including the distribution of chosen gifts and the recitations of war-poetry.
Furthermore, in the case of the Rendlesham site, the remnants of the hall are accompanied by around 4,000 other historical items, ranging from coins, weights to metal-works that showcase their impressive craftsmanship. Among these fascinating objects, at least 1,000 are of Anglo-Saxon origin. Dr Helen Geake of the British Museum, mentioned how the palatial scope might be related to East Anglia, one of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms during the Heptarchy period in Britain –
There would have been quite a few of these palaces or halls dotted around. The king [of the time] would have toured his kingdom in order to show his magnificence to his people, so he would have had lots of places to base himself around East Anglia.