Chance to take part in £700k project to uncover royal Saxon past of Deben valley

Volunteers excavating an Anglo-Saxon house at Rendlesham Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Volunteers excavating an Anglo-Saxon house at Rendlesham Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

A major £700,000 research project to explore the hidden archaeology that tells the story of Suffolk’s royal Saxon heritage has received a huge lottery boost.

The project in the Deben valley aims to connect the unique stories of the princely burials of Sutton Hoo - where King Raedwald's grave and treasure was discovered in his ship - and the site of the royal palace at Rendlesham.

Called Rendlesham Revealed: Anglo-Saxon Life in South-East Suffolk, the project is to receive £517,300 from the National Lottery which will unlock at least a further £200,000 in match funding from local and national partners, universities and volunteers.

Professor Christopher Scull, Honorary Visiting Professor at University College London and University of Cardiff, the project's academic lead, said: "The support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund will allow the people of Suffolk to investigate, understand and protect fragile archaeology of international importance.

"Setting Rendlesham and Sutton Hoo in their wider landscape promises new understandings of the early East Anglian kingdom, its people and its rulers, and the wider English and North Sea worlds of which they were a part."

Richard Rout, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for environment and public protection, said: "It is an exciting opportunity to work with new partners and to bring professionals and communities together. This project will leave a lasting legacy for heritage and the people of Suffolk and will boost the profile of our county."

Rendlesham Revealed will follow on from a pilot project three years ago involving a systematic survey and small-scale excavation co-ordinated by Suffolk County Council Archaeological Services (SCCAS) at Rendlesham.

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This uncovered evidence of the Anglo-Saxon royal settlement, first recorded by Bede in the 8th Century, where the East Anglian kings would have stayed, feasted with their followers, administered justice, and collected dues and tribute.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund grant enables these investigations to be continued.

The finds at Rendlesham - revealed exclusively by the EADT six years ago - have been hailed as of international importance, and demonstrate that Rendlesham, which is just four miles from the historic Sutton Hoo ship burial site, was an estate centre occupied by individuals of high status.

Archaeologists have unearthed an extensive settlement and believe it was home to burial sites, working areas, a range of residences and the palace where King Raedwald lived. Excavations have uncovered more than 1,000 items.

Local people will be a vital part of this four-year community archaeology project. SCCAS and their partners will directly engage local residents, schools, young people and volunteers from south-east Suffolk and Ipswich.

Supported through The National Lottery Heritage Fund, there will be a range of opportunities for local people to volunteer and be trained in on-site archaeological survey and excavation, as well as taking part in hands-on experimental archaeology events, specialist and family workshops, guided walks and exhibitions. These activities will take place in south-east Suffolk and Ipswich from summer 2020-2023.

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