Heritage Lottery Fund supports major new project

Sutton Hoo royal burial mounds in a winter mist

We've just received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a new project ‘Releasing the Story of Sutton Hoo’.

Thanks to National Lottery players, the £2.4m project will transform the experience visitors have when visiting the site of the world famous Anglo-Saxon burial mounds and release the full potential of the dramatic landscape and its fascinating story.

A Heritage Lottery Fund ‘first round pass’ grant of £150,000 has now been awarded to help the Trust progress the project through its early development stages, which will see the overall plans take shape in consultation with National Trust members and the local community.

Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge in Suffolk, is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world and the 7th century burial mounds, excavated from the late 1930s onwards, have revealed items including the iconic Sutton Hoo helmet that have helped shape our understanding of the origins of English history. 

Luke Potter, East Suffolk General Manager, said:

" We want to enrich and enhance the experience people have when visiting Sutton Hoo. This special place is about so much more than the treasure, it tells the hugely significant story of how the first English people lived their lives. Their significance continues to resonate down the centuries in our language, our craft traditions and our connections to land and landscape."
- Luke Potter

Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, said:

“I’m delighted Sutton Hoo has been successful in obtaining a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Creating a new interactive experience to showcase the story of this hugely important excavation is important for our national heritage and will attract many more visitors to Suffolk important for our local economy.”

Hand-crafted replica of the Sutton Hoo helmet
Hand-crafted replica of the Sutton Hoo helmet

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said:

“Sutton Hoo is one of the most important Anglo-Saxon sites in the world and it's exciting that thanks to National Lottery players, Sutton Hoo will be transformed for visitors from near and far. This is a great opportunity to share this amazing place and its stories from the past 6000 years.”

Although still in the early development stage, ‘Releasing the Story of Sutton Hoo’ will ultimately see visitors take a whole new route through the landscape, with the importance and setting of the burial mounds playing a central role.

" The project aims to release the power and magical inspiration of Sutton Hoo’s history by untapping the human stories that reside within its landscape. We aim to create a layered experience that reaches out and appeals to diverse and new audiences, from the academic to the casual visitor."
- Luke Potter

Plans include building a raised platform to provide views over the entire burial ground and to the River Deben beyond, which itself played such a significant part in the Sutton Hoo story. It was from the river that the Anglo-Saxon ship was hauled up the valley before it was used in the burial chamber found in Mound One, where the famous treasure was discovered, and it is hoped that visitors will also follow in the footsteps of the final stages of this dramatic journey. New innovative interpretation will help bring both the landscape and the museum to life.

The aim of the project is to create an experience that will appeal to a wide range of visitors, whether they are holidaymakers looking for a family-friendly day out, local people who regularly enjoy the landmark, students studying the Anglo-Saxon period or people from around the world with an interest in archaeology.

The project will bring a wide range of inclusive learning and hands-on/participatory opportunities for all visitors to Sutton Hoo, including an enhanced formal education programme, an art and craftsmanship programme and a range of new volunteering roles.

The project is scheduled for completion in 2021. So watch this space.