Sutton Hoo short walk, near Woodbridge, Suffolk
This hauntingly beautiful estate, with far-reaching views over the River Deben, is home to one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time. Walk around the ancient burial mounds and discover the incredible story of the ship burial of an Anglo-Saxon king and his treasured possessions.
Suitable for active families. Due to hills, steps etc. not suitable for buggies and/or wheelchairs.
Sutton Hoo car park, grid ref: TM288487
Turn right out of reception and head away from the car park. Keeping to the left of the path, head into the woods.
Deben valley and Rabbit Field
Just ahead of you, you'll come across the Deben valley on your right. This old river valley is known as the Rabbit Field, as its been home to rabbits for many years. They ransacked a lot of the burial mounds before Basil Brown (at that time employed at Ipswich Museum) arrived in 1938, at the request of Mrs Edith Pretty, to excavate the mounds on her property at Sutton Hoo. Mrs Pretty agreed to pay him at his usual weekly rate at the museum of £1.12.6d.
After about 100yd (90m) or so, look down at the Deben River valley, and what's known as the Rabbit Field, to your right. Continue through woods until reaching a gate, which effectively creates a T-junction in the path. Turn right through the gate and follow the path for about 200yd (180m).
The Gar Seat
Look out for the Gar seat which looks out over the Rabbit Field. Cleverly crafted to link in with the royal ship burial, the Gar seat was commissioned by Dick and Lisa Robinson in memory of Elizabeth Robinson, Dick's beloved mother, known affectionately as Gar. Elizabeth was a volunteer at Sutton Hoo until her death in 1997. The carvings on the seat echo the beautiful Anglo-Saxon designs found in Mound 1 (the ship burial site).
On reaching a fork in the path, take the left-hand fork and follow it around Top Hat Wood to your right, until you reach a viewing platform overlooking the ancient burial mound site.
Anglo-Saxon burial mounds
Mound 1 was excavated in the early summer of 1939, initially by Basil Brown from Ipswich Museum. He uncovered the remains of a 90ft-long, clinker-built wooden ship of the seventh-century, outlined by its iron rivets in the sand. Further excavation in the following years up to 1971, led the excavators to believe that this was the burial site of Raedwald, leader of the Wuffing dynasty of the East Angles, dated to c.625 AD. To find out more, why not join one of our guided tours whilst you're here at Sutton Hoo.
Immediately after the viewing platform, is a gate on the right which enters the wood. Go through the gate and follow it downhill, carrying on through another gate at the bottom of the hill. Continue on, bear right and the path continues over a rise to a T-junction.
Stop and listen
At the right time of the year, Top Hat Wood is an excellent spot for listening out for the distinctive call of the Nightingale. The woods here are deliberately left to grow up around the paths, rather than cleared away, as the bramble and foliage makes the perfect habitat for these songful birds and many others.
On reaching the T-junction, turn left and go downhill, taking the right-hand fork at the bottom. In 200yd (180m) or so, you'll reach a collection of old buildings on the left. Turn immediately right at this point and follow the made-up road for 200 to 300yd (180 to 275m). From here follow the 'Blue Walk' way-marks.
After a fenced section, the road eventually bears left uphill past Home Wood on the right, to a pine tree at the top. Continue following the road as it then bears right.
Take the time to look over to the river Deben on your left as you make your way up the road. Lots of wildlife can often be seen on the river from here, as well as in the fields and surrounding woods. See if you can also spot the tall Scots Pine tree at the top of the hill after Home Wood as you walk.
Continue downhill, with Brown's Planting Wood on your right.
About 200yd (180m), before the main road, look out for a sign-posted path going into the woods on the right.
Go up quite a steep hill, follow the track through the woods and return to the car park, reception and restaurant.
Exhibition centre and visitor reception
The exhibition centre, with the visitor reception (where you started your walk) is a good place to stop for a bite to eat once you've finished.
Sutton Hoo car park, grid ref: TM288487
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