Geophysics at Sutton Hoo

Geophysics at Sutton Hoo

The story of Sutton Hoo is not just about Anglo-Saxons. The history of archaeology is a fascinating story in itself. When you think of archaeology at Sutton Hoo your mind might instantly conjure up images the 1939 discoveries and Basil Brown, but did you know archaeology is still ongoing here, and that you too can have a go?

Thanks to funding provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of our Releasing the Sutton Hoo Story project, we’ve been able to train our volunteers to study this landscape’s geophysics using an earth resistance meter.

We are currently working in Garden Field- an area of the site adjacent to the High Hall exhibition. During the construction of the High Hall exhibition building in the early 2000s an Anglo-Saxon folk cemetery was discovered. It was also in Garden Field that the Bromeswell Bucket was discovered so who knows what else lies beneath our feet in this part of the landscape?

Bromeswell Bucket replica in the High Hall
Bromeswell Bucket replica in the High Hall
Bromeswell Bucket replica in the High Hall


Our resistance meter measures the resistance of the soil. By scanning the soil in this way we can build up an image of what lies under the surface. Generally human-made features such as earthworks, walls or buildings will show up as a dark patch indicating high resistance. Lighter spots, or low resistance areas, are usually natural geological features. Identification of the features is as much of an art as a science. Garden Field is home to numerous rabbit warrens and the compacted soil of these also shows up as high resistance!
Now the wetter autumn weather has arrived it is an ideal time to head out and get involved. The dry summer days are not suited to a resistance survey as the ground becomes too hard for the meter to pick up a reading, but after a damp September or October day we can cover a surprising amount of ground.
So if you’d like to discover Sutton Hoo’s hidden depths for yourself, our volunteer archaeologists are running public participation sessions here on site. So if you have ever wanted to do archaeology at one of the most fascinating archaeological sites in Europe now is your opportunity.
Dates are available here, although please beware this activity is weather dependant: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/65c88d99-065a-4508-95c2-4f57d85062ef/pages/details


We are also looking to recruit more volunteer archaeologists to help bring the archaeological story at Sutton Hoo alive for our visitors. You don’t need a background in archaeology- just an interest in the subject and sharing your enthusiasm with others. Click here for more details on volunteering at Sutton Hoo:

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sutton-hoo/features/join-the-sutton-hoo-team