Major work to transform Sutton Hoo into world heritage attraction to go ahead thanks to lottery cash
- Credit: PA
A bold project aiming to unlock the magic and stories surrounding one of Britain’s greatest treasures is set to go ahead after lottery chiefs agreed a £1.8million grant towards the venture.
The work at the Sutton Hoo site – scene of the country’s most significant Anglo-Saxon archaeological discoveries – will transform the experience of visitors and help them discover more about the people who settled on the shores of the Deben, and those who took part in the digs that uncovered the world famous finds.
The £4m Releasing the Story of Sutton Hoo project will include building a 17-metre tall observation tower to give views over the entire burial ground, where King Raedwald was buried in his ship.
A new route around the site will allow visitors to walk in the steps of the Anglo-Saxons – tracing how they hauled the vessel up the valley before it formed the burial chamber found in Mound One, where it was discovered by Suffolk archaeologist Basil Brown in 1939.
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.
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Enhanced guided tours, thought-provoking activities and installations, innovative interpretation and creative programming will all sit alongside a schools education programme.
In addition, partnership working with archaeological bodies, the British Museum and the local community will all help to help bring both the landscape and Exhibition Hall to life.
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In addition to the Heritage Lottery Fund grant, the National Trust is aiming to raise a further £560,000 in order to complete the project, which is wants to open in 2021.
Allison Girling, Property Operations Manager at Sutton Hoo said: “We welcome visitors with a wide range of interests and knowledge to Sutton Hoo and these plans are all about sharing more about the history of this special place, helping visitors delve deeper into the lives of the Anglo-Saxons who settled here, the people who discovered them and to learn more about what it is that makes Sutton Hoo so fascinating.
“From why the Anglo-Saxons chose to bury their king here and how their lives and traditions have influenced English culture for generations, to how the determination of one remarkable woman led to the discoveries in the first place, there are so many stories to tell at Sutton Hoo and thanks to National Lottery players who make these grants possible, we’ll be able to move forward with our plans.”
She added: “We’ve been working with Sutton Hoo’s teams of staff and volunteers, regular visitors and supporters, the local community and the National Lottery to shape the future for Sutton Hoo and together we want to create an experience that really brings history to life whether you’re visiting for a family day out, to discover what’s on your doorstep or to support academic research.”
Robyn Llewellyn, head of Heritage Lottery Fund in the East of England said: “Sutton Hoo is an incredibly significant treasure trove of Anglo-Saxon heritage and it’s exciting that thanks to National Lottery players, this fascinating site will be transformed for visitors from near and far.
“This is a great opportunity to share this amazing place and put people of all ages at the heart of a story which spans 6,000 years.”
The Trust has also been given permission for plans to transform the welcome centre and car park.