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

21 Nov 18

Viewing Platform removal

One of the next jobs for our outdoor team has been to begin removing the Sutton Hoo viewing platform that used to allow our visitors to gaze across the Royal Burial Ground in front of Mound One. The space here needs to be cleared, ready to be replaced next year with our brand new 20m tall viewing tower!

The Sutton Hoo Viewing Platform begins to be removed

18 Oct 18

Preparing the Tranmer House collection

Work begins in Tranmer House with the gathering of all the different items and objects that have been used throughout the House in displays, exhibits and to make Tranmer truly feel like a home. Each item has been collected together and labelled with its own unique number, ready to be carefully cleaned and packed by our volunteers.

Items in Tranmer House at Sutton Hoo are catalogued ready for cleaning

15 Oct 18

Lunch atop a...

If the New York Skyscraper construction workers can do it, so can Sutton Hoo! Our amazing outdoor team of staff and volunteers pose atop the cross beam of the Sutton Hoo reconstructed burial chamber after finishing its careful removal. The large space now revealed below where the chamber used to sit shows how the Exhibition Hall used to look, with our visitors gazing down upon the burial rather than walking through it.

'Lunch atop an Anglo-Saxon ship' Sutton Hoo Volunteers pose after removal of the burial chamber