I don’t want to boast, but I’ve just been to the 2015 Aldeburgh Literary Festival. Tickets are about as difficult to get as an FA Cup Final combined with Glyndebourne. Every last one goes within a day of issue but what else could you expect of a place of such culture, served by the sort of bookshop that most towns can only dream of?
The Aldeburgh Bookshop skims only the very cream off Britain’s literary churn. From Helena Attlee on lemons to A. N. Wilson on Queen Victoria, all was richness down to Thursday’s presentation, which wasn’t flogging a book at all.
This event was an archaeological report into Rendlesham, up the Deben from Sutton Hoo in Suffolk. Nowadays, Rendlesham isn’t more than a village, but, to the Venerable Bede, it was a vicus regius a royal settlement. In about 2006, it was attracting unwelcome attention from ‘nighthawks’: thieves with metal detectors.
But their activities inspired the local landowner to contact the Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service. An inch-by-inch survey has just been completed by detectorists and their finds some 250,000 objects are rewriting our understanding of Saxon England. Although rural, 6th-century Rendlesham was bigger than Ipswich. Who says civilisation began in towns?