Top 10 Heritage Sites for Suffolk

sutton_hoo_3614_med

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.

IMG_1248

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.

IMG_6312

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.

IMG_2312

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.

IMG_3828

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.

IMG_3935

Ickworth © David Gill

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

IMG_1938-Edit

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.

IMG_0448-Edit

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.

IMG_0666

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.

 

Guidebooks by W. Douglas Simpson

Scottish_castles_HMSO

1959 (6th impress. 1969)

W. Douglas Simpson (1896–1968) prepared a series of Ministry guidebook for sites in State Guardianship. He was lecturer in British History at the University of Aberdeen (by 1924), and then He served as Librarian and Registrar for the University of Aberdeen from 1926 through to 1966. He served as Chair of the Ancient Monuments Board for Scotland. He was awarded OBE (1954) and CBE (1962).

In 1959 Simpson prepared Scottish Castles: An Introduction to the Castles of Scotland (HMSO, 1959). In the Foreword he wrote: ‘Those who read this little book will come to realise that, small and poor as it has always been, Scotland yet possesses a distinctive castellated architecture, and one of which any nation might be proud’. There are eight sections:

  • The earliest castles
  • Castles of enceinte
  • The early tower houses
  • Bastard feudalism and the later castles
  • The later tower houses
  • The royal palaces
  • Firearms and the later “House of Fence”
  • The Scottish baronial style

Portrait here.

Several of the castles and abbeys he studied were located around Aberdeen: Tolquhon Castle (1948), Huntly Castle (1954), Kildrummy and Glenbuchat (1957); the Abbey of Deer (1952).

Kirkcudbrightshire: Threave Castle (1948)

Angus: Edzell Castle (1952); Restenneth Priory (1952)

Isle of Bute: Rothesay Castle (1952)

Midlothian: Craigmillar (1954), Crichton (1957)

East Lothian: Hailes Castle

Inverness-shire: Urquhart (1964); Beauly Priory (1954)

Roxburghshire: Hermitage (1957)

Lanarkshire: Bothwell Castle (1958)

Orkney: Kirkwall (1965)

The guidebook for Dunstaffnage (1981) contains his draft.

Scotland_AM6

(1954)

He also prepared (with V. Gordon Childe) the Illustrated Guide to Ancient Monuments … vol 6: Scotland (1954).

He prepared one guidebook for the National Trust for Scotland: Craigievar Castle, the rock of Mar (1966) (NTS). This castle is located to the west of Aberdeen.

Simpson also prepared two guidebooks for castles in England: Brough Castle, Cumbria (1949; repr. 1969) (now English Heritage); Bodiam Castle (1965) for the National Trust.

 

Hall, A. (2004, September 23). Simpson, William Douglas (1896–1968), archaeologist and historian. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. Retrieved 5 Aug. 2018, from http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-49530.

 

Sutton Hoo: a dry summer

My photographs of Sutton Hoo taken in May and August of this year show how the high temperatures and low rainfall have had transformed the archaeological landscape of NT Sutton Hoo. The dry conditions are highlighting features.

Orford Ness Lighthouse and the sea

IMG_1346-Edit

Orford Ness Lighthouse © David Gill

Work is continuing to protect the lighthouse on Orford Ness, Suffolk from further encroachment by the sea (‘Orfordness Lighthouse: Volunteers’ battle against the sea‘, BBC News 12 August 2018).

The lighthouse is now managed by the Orfordness Lighthouse Trust. It was constructed in 1792.

IMG_1327-Edit copy

Orford Ness Lighthouse © David Gill

New Excavations at Sutton Hoo

IMG_1311-Edit

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.

IMG_1316-Edit

Sutton Hoo excavations, June 2018 © David Gill

Mottistone: tea and scone

Mottistone_0160-Edit

There are some heritage tea-rooms that deserve a special mention, and this includes NT Mottistone on the Isle of Wight. First, there was a warm welcome that makes a big difference. Second, tea was served in a proper teapot and cups and saucers were provided. Third, the scone was well above the normal standard for NT fare. Fourth (and outside the control of the NT), the sun shone.

Tea with the National Trust has become a rather mixed affair with a move away from quality tea blenders, and with a very bland, and often disappointing, range of cakes on offer. At least there is a corner of an island that takes pride in what it has to offer.

Visitors to Framlingham Castle

IMG_7870

Framlingham Castle, Towers 7-11 (from right to left) © David Gill

Framlingham Castle has seen a dramatic increase in the number of visitors during the last year. The latest figures show that 106,149 visitors explored the castle in 2017, an increase of 35.9%. It has been suggested that this was due to Ed Sheeran’s allusion through his ‘Castle on the Hill’.

Fram_0549-Edit

Framlingham Castle © David Gill

However note that Ickworth, also in Suffolk, has seen an increase of more than 18,000 visitors (compare Framlingham with more than 28,000 visitors). Are we seeing an increase in visitors to Suffolk or has the music drawn in additional footfall?

Suffolk_VA_2017

© David Gill