The £4 million project at Sutton Hoo was made possible by a £1.8 million grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and has been supported by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership through the Growing Places Fund and the generosity of many National Trust members, supporters and donors.
The main aims of the project
The project at Sutton Hoo was created to help fully bring to life the important stories of this site, home to one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time. As well as the story of the Anglo-Saxon Great Ship Burial, Sutton Hoo has multiple layers of history dating back to the 7th century, including more recent stories to tell.
An important site
Sutton Hoo has traditionally been a tricky site to interpret. The surrounding landscape has changed since the Anglo-Saxon period losing some of the significance of the connection between the Royal Burial Ground and the River Deben. Arguably one of the most significant objects discovered, the Anglo-Saxon ship, had long since decayed in the acidic soil leaving just a fossilised imprint when it was excavated in 1939.
The original objects discovered in the Great Ship Burial were donated by the then landowner and instigator of the 1939 excavation, Edith Pretty, to the British Museum in London where they reached large audiences daily.
The project succeeded in releasing the story of the past
The four-year project helped to connect the main areas of the site together. Visitors are now more easily able to understand and access the story and significance of Sutton Hoo. The creation of a 17m high viewing tower overlooking the Royal Burial Ground helps aid understanding of the context of the site and its connection with the River Deben.
The ship returns
A full-size representation of the skeleton of the ship has been created in the main courtyard. The 90ft long sculpture helps to give an understanding of the sheer scale of the Great Ship Burial and features a representation of what the burial chamber looked like when it was excavated in 1939. The well-loved and memorable helmet sculpture which previously hung above the Exhibition Hall has been repositioned to greet you on the path from the car park to the Visitor Welcome building.
A new display in High Hall
The revamped High Hall exhibition features displays of high-quality replica objects of some of the key items that were discovered in the Great Ship Burial along with some original objects from other graves excavated on site including the contents of Mound 17, a warrior buried with his horse.
Around the exhibition you will meet different characters that would have been part of Anglo-Saxon society in the vicinity of Sutton Hoo that connects you directly with people from the past.
Short films and animations bring to life other aspects of Anglo-Saxon life including the trade routes several objects made to reach Sutton Hoo, the fighting techniques used by Anglo-Saxon warriors and the many creatures depicted within the intricate metalwork designs.
New displays in Tranmer House
The displays in Tranmer House, the former home of Edith Pretty who instigated the excavation of the Great Ship Burial, have also been revamped. Original furniture that belonged to Edith Pretty has been complemented by displays that explore the history of archaeology at the site.
View the digitised images
The displays pay tribute to those who have been involved from Basil Brown and Charles Phillips and his team in the 1930s through to more recent investigations by Professor Martin Carver in the 1980s. The digitised images, captured by Mercie Lack and Barbara Wagstaff, of the excavation of the Great Ship Burial are all available to view on projectors and tablet computers.