The eastern-most part of Britain that Edmund was born into, and inherited, has a unique quality. In the Anglo-Saxon era, Suffolk was known as ‘selig Suffolk’; ‘selig’ means fortunate, blessed or holy. It was within this East Anglian fastness that the town eventually to become Bury St Edmunds was established.
An understanding of this strange and ancient kingdom and its distant, otherworldly atmosphere is critical to the story of Edmund. He embodied Germanic traditions of divine kingship; his ability to rule, his moral rectitude, his health and vitality, were intricately linked to the fertility of the land and the wellbeing of the kingdom.
The map below shows a handful of important sites, ancient and modern, that reflect Suffolk’s unique qualities. Some are connected to the myth of Edmund, some have their roots in folklore or recent ideas about landscape and mystery. But all are worth investigating.
More locations will be added soon. Click on a place-marker below for more details.
SECRET SUFFOLK'S SPECIAL PLACES
Along a deserted farm track, hidden amidst woodland and overlooking the Stour Valley, is the ancient thatched church of St Stephen.
Bury is the heart of Secret Suffolk. Edmund the martyr-king’s shrine was the centre of the town’s symbolic layout, linking it to the landscape beyond.
Clare is an ancient town on the River Stour. The enigmatic and undated earthwork known as Clare Camp is a rare feature of Suffolk’s landscape.
Hartest is a small village south of Bury, located in a deep dale. At the north end of the village’s large green is a limestone boulder with an interesting past.
The death of Edmund, king of East Anglia, is recorded by his chronicler Abbo as occurring at Hægelisdun. Hoxne remains the favourite location for his martyrdom.
One of Suffolk’s oldest ancient oaks – at least 800 years old – stands alone amidst the rolling heathland of Ickworth Park.
Iken is one of the most sacred places in Suffolk. The lonely church, jutting out into the widening Alde estuary, has a strong spirit of place.
An ancient parish church, the site was likely settled in the Bronze Age. Inside is a wealth of medieval graffiti.
Close to the beautiful village of Kersey is c. 13th Lindsey chapel. It’s thatched roof and simple plan evoke a much older building.
One of the oldest gospel oaks in England, it was planted in roughly 643AD, less than 20 years after the burial of King Rædwald in Mound 1 at Sutton Hoo.
Rendlesham was the likely power-base of the Wuffinga Saxon royal dynasty, and home to Anglo-Saxon overlord King Rædwald and his dual-faith altar.
The ruins of one of East Anglia’s two ancient Minsters are isolated and brooding, shrouded by trees and surrounded by rolling fields.
Sutton Hoo is one of the country’s most significant archaeological sites, and the jewel in the crown of Secret Suffolk. A visit here is almost essential.
On the edge of Stanton lurks a deep and mysterious half-mile long trackway, linked in language to the Anglo-Saxon lairs of man-eating monsters.
The thatched church of St Mary at Thornham Parva, six miles south of Diss, houses two of Suffolk’s rarest treasures – both including depictions of St Edmund.
Within St Mary’s church are medieval apotropaic paintings – examples of the medieval use of symbols and images to invoke protection and supernatural aid.
The Anglo-Saxon village at West Stow is an atmospheric recreation of an early Saxon community. But settlement in the area dates back to the Mesolithic.
The ancient Hundred Lanes still carve through the landscape and can be walked even now, a thousand years after the Anglo-Saxons created them.