Releasing the Story of Sutton Hoo

Sutton Hoo burial mound at sunrise

We've spent the last few years planning an exciting transformation of your visit to Sutton Hoo. Work on a wide range of developments is now underway on site and we can't wait to show you everything we've been doing when we re-open in Spring 2019. 

With thanks to the £1.8million National Lottery grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and all the support from our visitors and supporters through our fundraising events, Sutton Hoo is embarking on major changes across the site this autumn, transforming the way we tell the story of one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time.

The project, called ‘Releasing the Sutton Hoo Story’, will enable the National Trust to create an experience that helps visitors discover more about this internationally significant site and how its stories have captured the imaginations of people the world over.

Visual of proposed viewing tower at Sutton Hoo
Visual of proposed viewing tower at Sutton Hoo
Visual of proposed viewing tower at Sutton Hoo

Plans include building a 17 metre high observation tower to give views over the entire burial ground and to the River Deben beyond, revealing the fascinating story of this evocative landscape.

It was from the River Deben that an Anglo-Saxon ship was hauled up the valley before it formed the burial chamber found in Mound One, where the famous treasure was discovered by Suffolk archaeologist Basil Brown.

Work on the observation tower began in May and June 2018 with our archaeological excavation of the tower’s footprint marking the first physical work to take place on site. The excavation marked the first time a dig has taken place so close to the Royal Burial Ground in almost 30 years.

Led by a team of archaeologists from Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), the dig also saw Sutton Hoo staff and volunteers taking hands-on roles to work alongside the experts throughout the work.

Setting out with the archaeological dig at Sutton Hoo
A man setting up for the archaeological dig at Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge
Setting out with the archaeological dig at Sutton Hoo

As well as the tower, a new route around the site will allow visitors to walk in the steps of the Anglo-Saxons, tracing part of the route the ship may have taken up towards the Royal Burial Ground.

Tranmer House, the former home of Edith Pretty who instigated the dig that would lead to the discoveries, will be transformed with a new exhibition exploring a timeline of multiple discoveries and the ongoing research at this and other archaeological sites.

Enhanced guided tours, thought-provoking activities and installations, innovative interpretation and creative programming will all sit alongside a school education programme.

In addition, partnership working with archaeological bodies, the British Museum and the local community will all help to bring both the landscape and Exhibition Hall to life.

The Trust has also been given permission for plans to transform the welcome centre, café and shop.

In total, £4million will be invested at Sutton Hoo thanks to the generosity and support of National Trust members and visitors. As well as the HLF Grant, the National Trust is aiming to raise a further £560,000 in order to complete the project.

Now that we're closed the Sutton Hoo team are instead embarking on a county-wide Roadshow, bringing our beautiful replicas to libraries and East of England Co-op's across Suffolk and north Essex. Our volunteers will be on hand to chat about the site – both its fascinating history and exciting future – with a range of extra activities and events planned at select locations across the closure period.

Latest posts

03 Oct 18

Burial Chamber reconstruction removal

Work is now in full swing within the Hall as one of our first large steps takes place - the careful removal of the reconstructed burial chamber. Built and installed in 2011, the reconstructed burial chamber allowed visitors to walk through to see the king surrounded by his treasures as it may have looked all those years ago. Now, it comes down to make way for our brand new exhibition within the Hall and all the exciting changes around it.

The Sutton Hoo burial chamber reconstruction begins to be removed

02 Oct 18

Sutton Hoo Roadshow begins!

The Sutton Hoo Roadshow begins as we head to Felixstowe East of England Co-op on 2, 3 and 4 October for our first stop. With our beautiful replicas for you to view and our volunteers on hand to chat to about Sutton Hoo's history and future, we hope to see you there!

Volunteers on day one of the Sutton Hoo Roadshow

01 Oct 18

The work starts!

As Sutton Hoo closes, the work begins! One of the first steps is to start bringing out the objects from the Exhibition Hall, ready to transform the space into something new. Although maybe only a small change, the dressing up clothes were among the first items to be removed leaving empty pegs behind. The opportunity to dress up and become an Anglo-Saxon is something that has delighted countless visitors over the years - and of all ages! Although gone for now, its not forever and there will be plenty of opportunities to dress up as an Anglo-Saxon once again when we re-open.

Empty dressing-up pegs in Sutton Hoo Exhibition Hall