Viewing the burial mounds at Sutton Hoo

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Sutton Hoo © David Gill

The new viewing platform adjacent to the site of the ship-burial at Sutton Hoo is developing. At the moment it looks rather stark against the tree line but the plan is to blend it into the background.

The 2014 temporary tower gave a totally new perspective on the site. I very much hope that the new tower will help visitors to understand a little bit more about the site.

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View over the Sutton Hoo burial site (April 2015) © David Gill

Sutton Hoo: visualising the burials

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Sutton Hoo sculpture © David Gill

Visitors to the cemetery at Sutton Hoo sometimes find it hard to visualise a ship under the mound. The NLHF supported project has allowed a ship sculpture to be inserted in the courtyard next to the cafe and shop. The central part maps out the finds on the ‘burial chamber’.

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Burial details in the Sutton Hoo sculpture © David Gill

This contrasts with the reconstructed display in the original exhibition at the site.

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Reconstructed ship burial at National Trust Sutton Hoo © David Gill

Top 10 Heritage Sites for Suffolk

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Sutton Hoo © David Gill

I have been reviewing the summer and thinking about the key heritage sites in Suffolk. I have put the ten locations in a broadly chronological order.

Sutton Hoo. The Anglo-Saxon ship-burial site is one of the most important archaeological sites in the UK. The spectacular finds are displayed in the British Museum.

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The gatehouse to the Abbey, Bury St Edmunds © David Gill

The Abbey of St Edmund. The abbey precinct contains the ruined abbey as well as two impressive gatehouses. The present cathedral stands alongside the former abbey church.

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Blythburgh © David Gill

Blythburgh church. Suffolk has numerous medieval churches but Blythburgh is probably one of the most impressive. The setting with the marshes enhances the visit.

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Lavenham © David Gill

Lavenham, Guildhall. The Guildhall at Lavenham stood at the heart of the medieval community.

Clare Castle

Clare Castle © David Gill

Clare Castle. It is hard to beat a castle that has a (disused) railway station in its outer bailey. The castle provides good views over Clare with its splendid church.

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Orford Castle © David Gill

Orford Castle. The castle at Orford provides a wonderful platform to view part of the Suffolk coast including the twentieth century Cold War remains on Orford Ness.

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Ickworth © David Gill

Ickworth. The Rotunda at Ickworth dominates the landscape and can be viewed from the Italianate gardens.

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Museum of East Anglian Life © David Gill

Museum of East Anglian Life. This outdoor museum in Stowmarket brings together different elements of rural life in the region. The riverside walk provides a good opportunity to spot wildlife.

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East Anglia Transport Museum © David Gill

East Anglia Transport Museum. This gem of a museum provides train, tram and trolleybus rides, exhibits of signs, and displays from the now dismantled Southwold railway.

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Palace House, Newmarket © David Gill

Newmarket, Palace House. Newmarket is synonymous with horseracing and the exhibitions have everything from Greek pottery to modern art, physiological displays, and memorabilia. Visitors can even take an automated ride.

This is very much a personal list, and it reflects some of the key locations.

 

New Excavations at Sutton Hoo

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Sutton Hoo excavations, June 2018 © David Gill

Some investigatory excavations were taking place at National Trust Sutton Hoo this last week in preparation for the construction of a viewing tower adjacent to the mound where the ship burial was excavation. This HLF funded project will enhance the public experience of what is one of the most important archaeological sites in Suffolk.

Archaeologists from MOLA have been investigating a Bronze Age ditch feature (with some contextualised pottery).

In 2015 a temporary scaffolding tower was erected to see how it changed the way that the public viewed the mounds.

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Sutton Hoo excavations, June 2018 © David Gill

Old Sarum: guidebooks

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1965

I have noted before the 1922 Office of Works guide to Old Sarum. In 1965 H. de S. Shortt prepared an illustrated guide to Old Sarum for the MPBW in the format that had been produced in the 1950s for other sites in State Guardianship. The cover is based on the 1819 map prepared by Henry Wansey. One of the first features is a double page spread (pp. 4–5) providing a plan for the castle, the outer bailey and the original cathedral. The guide starts with the situation, noting paintings by John Constable (reproduced in the centre pages), before moving into the historical outline with sub-sections on prehistory, Roman-Britain, Anglo-Saxon, Norman, and then later periods. It includes reconstructions by Alan Sorrell. There is then a guide to the remains, both the inner bailey, as well as the old cathedral. There are two appendices: A note on the name of Old Sarum; Saint Osmund; Excavations at or adjoining Old Sarum.

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1984

The guide continued to be in print until 1984. The plan of the castle had been placed on a foldout sheet inside the back cover.

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1994 [2003]

Derek Renn prepared the English Heritage guide (1994). The two main sections are ‘What to see’ (no longer, ‘a tour’ or ‘a description’), and ‘The story of Old Sarum’ (not ‘a history’). A pictorial ‘tour’ is provided in the centre pages. It contains sections on prehistory, Rome, as well as the Normans. One section addresses ‘From city to rotten borough’.

Renn had earlier prepared the MPBW souvenir guide to Shell Keeps in Devon and Cornwall (1969), and the English Heritage guidebooks for Orford and Framlingham Castles (1988), Goodrich Castle (1993).

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2006

The latest English Heritage guide is by John McNeill, with fold out plans inside the front and back covers. The two main sections are the tour, and a history, with features on the demolition of the cathedral and beneath the ramparts, showing some of the early investigations of the site.

Reculver: guidebooks

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Reculver © David Gill

The Saxon Shore fort of Reculver in Kent is in the care of English Heritage. Parts of the Roman fort has been eroded into the sea. In the 7th century the fort became the site for the foundation of an Anglo-Saxon minster. The site was placed in Site Guardianship in 1950.

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Stuart E. Rigold wrote a short guide to the site in 1971. This followed the format of the DOE concertina card guides (see also Hardknott Roman fort; Hetty Pegler’s Tump). There are 6 columns of text (the fort, the minster) on one side (with a small plan of the fort and church), a series of images including a plan of the 7th-15th century ecclesiastical structures.

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(2012)

The present English Heritage guide by Tony Wilmott covers the two Saxon Shore forts in Kent, Reculver and Richborough.

Releasing the Story of Sutton Hoo

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Sutton Hoo © David Gill

The National Trust has been awarded £1.8 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund to enhance the visitor experience at Sutton Hoo. One of the projects will be to create a 17 m high viewing tower to give some visitors views of the burial ground. Tranmer House, overlooking the cemetery, will be the home for a new interpretative exhibition.