Sculpture trail at Sutton Hoo

Sculpture of the shield bird

There are 15 new sculptures across the Sutton Hoo landscape in 8 different groups. These new sculptures have been lovingly created by a group of local sculpture artists drawing inspiration from the objects discovered in the Great Ship Burial at Sutton Hoo, as well as the wider world of Anglo-Saxon art and design.

As you venture through the woodland on the Sutton Hoo River View walk it’s easy to pretend you are stepping back 1500 years in time. At any moment you can imagine seeing wild boar roaming between the trees and birds of prey soaring overhead. This new sculpture trail, featuring beasts of Anglo-Saxon design, really does give the feeling that these animals have managed to escape from the objects they were originally depicted on and are now exploring the Sutton Hoo landscape. If you ever wanted to see the bird from the front of the shield chasing a group of ducks from the purse lid towards the river, you now can.

Making the sculptures

The 15 new sculptures were specially crafted by a local group of sculpture artists, Treesculpture. Based in rural north-Suffolk, their sculpture yard and workshops are almost like stepping back into the world of Anglo-Saxon craftsmanship, only with the somewhat noisy addition of chainsaws. 

Timber being cut to size ready to be turned into a sculpture
Making one of the wooden sculptures
Timber being cut to size ready to be turned into a sculpture

Working in traditional ‘bender’ tents (a form of construction that would have been familiar in the Anglo-Saxon period) to create these sculptures they took huge lumps of oak, sweet chestnut (sourced from Sutton Hoo) and cedar and intricately carved the detail into the timber. In total five artists worked on the pieces with each artist producing their own interpretation of the original designs. 

A boar sculpture being carved
Wooden boar sculpture being carved
A boar sculpture being carved
The drinking horn sculpture being carved
The drinking horn sculpture being carved
The drinking horn sculpture being carved
Hiker, a pig who lives at the sculpture yard, posing with a boar sculpture
A pig posing opposite a boar sculpture
Hiker, a pig who lives at the sculpture yard, posing with a boar sculpture

Treesculpture are no strangers to Sutton Hoo. Their late founder, Ben Platts-Mills, carved the Gar Seat- a firm favourite with many visitors to the site. It is hoped to add further sculptures to the trail as time goes on. 

The Gar Seat at Sutton Hoo
The Gar Seat at Sutton Hoo
The Gar Seat at Sutton Hoo


Exploring the trail

The trail begins behind the café- look out for the large boar with a bristly back! Head through the gate and follow the path along the fence line through Garden Field. You will come across the second sculpture, the frog from the belt buckle, at the gates into the woods. Once you are in the woods continue following signs for the ‘River View walk’. Please be aware the trail route has uneven terrain.


To help you get the most from the sculpture trail we have created two special downloadable guides. The first is a guide to the trail which explores the origin of the designs and the objects they have been inspired by. The family story trail follows the adventures of a young warrior in his quest to find a magic drinking horn.