A ship returns

For many, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking ‘Sutton Hoo’ is the exquisite Anglo-Saxon helmet discovered in the Great Ship Burial. Sutton Hoo is now home to a full size sculpture of the ship that once held that helmet.

Sutton Hoo is now home to a unique, specially designed and made sculpture representing of the Anglo-Saxon ship buried here.

We asked Mike Hopwood, National Trust Visitor Experience Project Manager, to explain more about this imposing new arrival.

“The Sutton Hoo story is about a unique burial, uncovering the so-called dark ages and finding out more about the English nation. It is a story about new settlers coming across the North Sea from their homelands to seek out new horizons. And it begins with the discovery of the ghostly outline of a ship.” 

It started with just one rivet

During the 1939 dig, the first thing the archaeological team discovered in Mound 1 was a single rivet. The wood timbers of the ship would have long since perished, but this small piece of metal told them of the enormity of what had been found. Through the meticulous excavation process that followed, the ghostly skeleton of the ship was uncovered.

Our contemporary sculpture symbolises the phantom remains of this almighty vessel, bringing the discovery of the Anglo-Saxon ship to life.

A glimpse of a ghost

Visitors will first catch sight of the sculpture from the car park, through three steel portals. As you arrive into the welcome courtyard, it’s an arresting sight.

At full size, this imposing 27 metre long rusted steel sculpture sits atop a concrete plinth that represents the River Deben. It’s designed to evoke visions of the day that this huge vessel was transported from the River to its final resting place.

When fully complete, the centre of the sculpture will house a slab representing the burial chamber, with detailed etchings marking the exact layout of where the treasures in the chamber were found.

Casting new light

Surrounding the sculpture, pulling the threads of the Sutton Hoo story together, you’ll find information panels to help you delve deeper into this extraordinary historic tale.

With seating all around, it will be the perfect place to enjoy the shadows and dramatic light cast by the striking artwork before heading further into the site for your own voyage of discovery. 

The ‘wow’ factor

Our ship sculpture brings the ‘wow’ factor to a visit to Sutton Hoo.

Mike added: ‘We want you to get excited about the discovery at Sutton Hoo from the moment you arrive. To be met with a full size ghostly representation of the ship found here will allow our visitors to begin to digest just how remarkable this story is from the moment they set foot on site.”