Sutton Hoo (c) National Trust

MOLA archaeologists to conduct first excavation at Sutton Hoo Royal Burial Ground in almost 30 years

MOLA team
24.05.2018

We’re really excited to be involved in a transformational project at Sutton Hoo, the world-famous Anglo-Saxon site, with the National Trust.

Over the coming weeks our archaeologists will carry out the first excavation within the Scheduled Ancient Monument for almost 30 years and visitors to the site can come and see our archaeologists at work, and talk to them about the excavation. It will take place just yards from where one of the most significant Anglo-Saxon finds of all time was made in 1939.

The dig will happen on the site of a new 17 foot tall viewing tower that will give visitors a birds-eye view of the Royal Burial Mound and look out across the landscape towards the River Deben, where the ship carrying King Raedwald is believed to have landed all those years ago. Once the dig is complete, work will begin the construction of the tower.

The dig

Our team of professional archaeologists are excavating the site over the course of five days and digging close to the burial mound where the ship was discovered. It’s the first time archaeologists have worked in this area of Sutton Hoo since 1991. At this early stage it’s impossible to know what we might find, which is what makes this excavation so exciting. Our team will be joined by National Trust volunteers who will assist with the work and will interact with visitors to share more about what is happening and why. It represents a unique opportunity for people to see archaeology in action at such a special place.

The site

In 1939, an amateur archaeologist called Basil Brown investigated the site at the request of landowner Edith Pretty and went on to discover one of the most significant Anglo-Saxon sites of all time. Beneath one of the mounds was a 27-metre-long ship burial believed to be the final resting place of the Anglo-Saxon King Rædwald. The ship is thought to have been hauled to its final resting place before being buried with the remains of the king and a staggering collection of grave goods within it.

The completeness of the ship and the spectacular grave goods within the burial chamber itself made the site internationally significant and further excavation in the 60’s and 80’s attested to this. Incredible artefacts were uncovered which further enriched our understanding of early Anglo-Saxon England. These artefacts, including the famous Sutton Hoo helmet, can be seen in the British Museum.

We’ll be sharing the story of our excavations at Sutton Hoo on our Facebook and Twitter accounts with #SuttonHoo, follow along for insights and daily updates from the team. The work is the first stage in the delivery of a £4million transformation of the visitor experience at Sutton Hoo, which has been funded thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant and thanks to the support of National Trust members and visitors. To find out more about Sutton Hoo and the archaeological work happening there, please visit the National Trust website.

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