Releasing the Story of Sutton Hoo

Sutton Hoo burial mound at sunrise

On 1 October 2018, Sutton Hoo will close for the coming months to begin transformative works across the site.

With thanks to the £1.8million National Lottery grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and all the support from the public 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 has already begun in May/June 2018, marking the first physical work to take place on site with our archaeological excavation of the tower’s footprint. The work 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.

The project is scheduled for completion in 2021.

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30 Sep 18

Last day of opening

Sunday 30 September is the last day Sutton Hoo will be open to the public before we close for our major transformation works. We aim to re-open in spring 2019.

The Sutton Hoo helmet sculpture

29 May 18

Excavation of the footprint of our observation tower begins

The first piece of physical work to take place on site begins with the excavation of where our new observation tower will soon stand.

Archaeology in process at Sutton Hoo