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Sutton Hoo Clasp

"In the barrow they placed collars and brooches— all such adornments as brave- minded men had before taken from the hoard. They left the wealth of nobles to the earth to keep,— left the gold in the ground, where it still exists, as unprofitable to men as it had been before."


By the end of the seventh century, Christianity began to prevail over paganism in England. The practice of interring grave goods with the dead was abandoned, which meant that the crafts of the Ango-Saxons, their weapons and adornments, were no longer safely interred with the dead. Now the gold collars and jewelled brooches were left to the hazards of the living.

As the Christian audience knows from the comment of the Beowulf poet, such wealth will do the hero no good in the afterlife. Although the old heroic rituals have been retained in the poem, their implications no longer are accepted.