Suffolk

Sutton Hoo: 'Greatest archaeological discovery' gets £4m revamp

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Warrior helmet on display at Sutton Hoo

One of the "greatest archaeological discoveries of all time" has been given a £4m revamp.

Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge in Suffolk, is believed to contain the grave, burial ship and burial treasures of King Rædwald - the 7th Century Anglo-Saxon ruler of East Anglia.

As part of the site's overhaul, pictures from the discovery and excavation in 1939 have been put on display.

The regeneration is the largest single investment by the National Trust at Sutton Hoo - and includes a £1.8m grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Allison Girling, from Sutton Hoo, said the photos "helped us share more of the story and the people behind it".

She said the photographs "captured such a wonderful visual record of the excavation" describing it as a "close and intimate look at how the dig unfolded".

Image copyright Trustees of the British Museum
Image caption Photographs from 1939 show the extent of the dig which revealed the imprint of the ship burial at Sutton Hoo
Image copyright National Trust
Image caption The steel sculpture showing the full size of the burial ship has already gone on display at Sutton Hoo
Image copyright Trustees of the British Museum
Image caption Suffolk archaeologist Basil Brown was assisted by members of Edith Pretty's staff

The extraordinary ship burial was revealed after landowner Edith Pretty called in local archaeologist Basil Brown to investigate a series of mysterious earth mounds on her estate on the Deben estuary.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption A reconstruction of the remains of the ornate shield found in the burial ship is among the items on display at Sutton Hoo

His discovery of a 1,300-year-old ship burial, including a warrior's helmet, gold belt buckle, sword and shield, revolutionised historians' understanding of the 7th Century, when England was divided into Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

Image copyright Trustees of the British Museum
Image caption Photographers Mercie Lack and Barbara Wagstaff captured a visual record of the excavation
Image copyright Suffolk County Council
Image caption Mrs Pretty paid for two policemen to guard the site 24 hours a day

Sue Brunning, from the British Museum, said: "The Sutton Hoo ship burial is one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time."

Image copyright Trustees of the British Museum
Image caption Work on the site began in 1938 but it was not until the following year they found the ship
Image copyright Trustees of the British Museim
Image caption Charles Phillips of Cambridge University took over responsibility of the excavation of the burial chamber

Visitors will see a full-size sculpture of the ship, renovations at Mrs Pretty's home of Tranmer House, and new routes and walkways through the landscape.

A 17-metre (56ft) observation tower, offering bird's eye views over the site, will open in the autumn.

Image copyright NAtional Trust
Image caption The forthcoming tower aims to give visitors a new view of the mounds and the site's location on the Deben estuary
Image copyright NAtional Trust
Image caption Excavation work at the Sutton Hoo mounds was interrupted by the outbreak of World War Two in 1939
Image copyright Trustees of the British Museum
Image caption Basil Brown was a a self-taught Suffolk archaeologist who worked for Ipswich Museum

Sutton Hoo archaeology and engagement manager Laura Howarth said: "We wanted to create an experience which really does justice to this incredibly important heritage site."

The site could be set for a further boost with filming starting next month on The Dig, a film about the 1939 discovery, with Nicole Kidman and Ralph Fiennes starring as Edith Pretty and Basil Brown.

Image copyright National Trust
Image caption An inquest determined the treasure found at Sutton Hoo belonged to Edith Pretty but she donated it to the British Museum

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites