Suffolk: Sutton Hoo is named as top county icon

AND the winner is . . . Sutton Hoo!

The burial ground of an Anglo-Saxon king and his amazing treasures – often called “the first page of English history” for shedding light on the 7th Century – is the Icon of Suffolk.

The National Trust site – and specifically the emblem of an early medieval helmet – topped a public poll to identify an image encapsulating what Suffolk is all about.

Home to one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time, it pipped Southwold-brewed Adnams beer and beach huts to claim the honours.

The helmet symbol will now feature heavily in publicity material highlighting just what the county has to offer.


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“We are absolutely overjoyed to be chosen by the people of Suffolk as the top icon, considering all the other icons that Suffolk has to offer,” said Sutton Hoo visitor services manager Elizabeth Rohde.

“We see the Anglo-Saxon helmet every day and never tire of its power and majestic presence. Our team who live and work in Suffolk really feel that we are guardians of this important place, but that it belongs to everyone. We love that people feel part of it, taking the icon into their hearts.”

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Brigit Parker, marketing manager of Choose Suffolk, said: “It’s a symbol of national historic importance. If you see that image, the world over, it undoubtedly is something you’d link back to Suffolk. It’s distinctive and representative – something that sends a powerful message.”

The Suffolk Icons initiative was launched in the summer by Choose Suffolk – the body promoting the county as a great place to live, work and visit – and the county council.

People attached photographs and video clips of places, buildings, statues and scenes they felt summed up the county’s character and atmosphere to the Suffolk Icons website.

There were some surprises. A picture of Dani Filth, the Gothic-looking singer from the “death metal” band Cradle of Filth, was loaded on to the site and received a huge number of electronic ticks of approval from his fans. It also brought some unexpected mentions of Suffolk in the national media.

Website content grew fast, with hundreds of pictures added to the gallery. A panel of judges then whittled them down to a shortlist of 20 images, which went out to public vote.

Brigit Parker is thrilled with the success of the project. “It encouraged people to look at Suffolk with a fresh eye and really understand its beauty and potential. We’re delighted with the way everyone in Suffolk has got behind Icons and thought about what makes Suffolk special to them.

“It’s allowed us to celebrate some of the things we know are good about the county, including the wonderful food and drink. History and heritage come out very strongly with Sutton Hoo and Framlingham Castle. The same with the natural landscape, in terms of Dunwich Heath and Constable Country – certainly Constable Country is an icon the rest of the world would associate with Suffolk, and it’s good to remind ourselves of how special it is.”

The Icons project was inspired by the Cultural Olympiad that is seeing a wide range of cultural and artistic events taking place across the UK in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Cultural Olympiad is designed to promote the UK to a global audience and aims to leave a legacy that will last well beyond 2012.

Suffolk Icons has been awarded a London 2012 Inspire Mark, which recognises outstanding projects and events helping to create that legacy.

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