Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The Making of Rædwald

Anglo Saxon Sutton Hoo Helmet Wall Plaque

Long have I loved the Sutton Hoo helmet and the story behind the excavation of the Anglo-Saxon ship burial, that must rank as one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time.

Raedwald (Old English: Raedwald, 'power in counsel,') is generally considered to be the most favoured candidate for the occupant of the burial, although other theories have been advanced. He was a 7th century king of East Anglia and, from about 616, was the most powerful of the English kings south of the River Humber, being referred to in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as a bretwalda (an Old English term meaning 'Britain-ruler' or 'wide-ruler.)

Source Wikipedia
The helmet has become an iconic image and one used often to illustrate books, magazines,
articles etc. about the 'Dark Ages,' times that are, at last, beginning to be seen as anything but dark. As such, it is a rare person who does not recognise this beautiful image.

What I didn't know, until recently, was that when it was originally restored in 1947, it looked completely different, and no where near as beautiful. In 1968 it was painstakingly taken apart and reassembled. There were more than 500 fragments and over a year's work to rebuild what we now see.

I much prefer the reconstructed plain helmet to the still undeniably beautiful 'recreated' helmets, in reanactor circles and at the British Museum, representing how the original helmet is believed to have looked. I know that this is a little romantic of me, as it is not the helmet that the owner knew and wore, but I suppose this is the same argument as whether you prefer ancient ruins or reconstructed buildings. I do believe that there is a place for both...but that is another story....

Every single one of the plaques that I make is entirely hand made by myself, and Raedwald is a design inspired by the Sutton Hoo helmet, rather than a museum replica...

The Original Plaques 


Raedwald hand sculpted wall plaque
Original hand-sculpted-metal wall plaques
The first plaques that I created were individually sculpted by hand in silver metal, or copper, and also included a runic inscription. Here's a link to the original article.

The New Raedwald - cast in bronze, copper & aluminium


Anglo Saxon Sutton Hoo Helmet wall plaque
New Raedwald cast in aluminium
Raedwald was always a challenging design to create individually in sheet metal, and I have recently been doing a lot of work refining the process of cold casting in metals to create plaques that sit easily alongside the hand-sculpted ones that I already produce. The first of these was the Tree of Life design, and Raedwald was the second. I am really pleased with the results!

Anglo Saxon Sutton Hoo Helmet wall plaque in copper
New Raedwald in copper

Each one has been cast in either cold cast bronze, copper or aluminium from an original sculpture, and then inset into a handcrafted oak plaque, approx. 13 cm x 17 cm x 2 cm.

I have loved revisiting Raedwald. He was one of the first designs that I created for the Justbod website, and, as such, will always hold a special place for me.

I wanted him to be evocative of a time and a notion. A time that we have, until recently, much maligned. A time of warriors and honour. A time of integrity and values. A time of artistic beauty and bold undertakings. A time that has left us with a rich legacy of stories with, hopefully, many more rich discoveries yet to come......

I hope you like Raedwald and the values that he embodies.

Thanks for reading


Justbod Team

A range of Raedwald wall plaques is normally available 
to buy from our  'Warriors' Collection.

See Collections for all of bod’s currently available works.

You might also be interested in: Behold the Specklebeast...
- another of bod's Anglo-Saxon inspired designs

Specklebeast Celtic AngloSaxon Art Wall Plaque
Visit The Specklebeast

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Sources and further information:

British Museum: the Sutton Hoo Helmet
Sutton Hoo helmet on Wikipedia 
Raedwald on Wikipedia