Sut­ton Hoo goes on the road

A trav­el­ling ex­hi­bi­tion tells the Saxon story

EADT Suffolk - - INSIDE - WORDS: Jayne Lindill

Vol­un­teers at Sut­ton Hoo, take to the road this month with a mis­sion to spread the word about the Na­tional Trust’s pres­ti­gious Saxon site near Woodbridge.

The road­show, which launches on Oc­to­ber 2, co­in­cides with the clo­sure of Sut­ton Hoo for sev­eral months, dur­ing which time ma­jor work will be un­der­taken to trans­form vis­i­tors’ ex­pe­ri­ences of the site and bring to life the An­glo Saxon realm of King Raed­wald.

The trust has won a £1.8 mil­lion grant from the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund to­wards a £4 mil­lion project called Re­leas­ing the Sut­ton Hoo Story. Plans in­clude cre­at­ing new walk­ing routes to link the var­i­ous as­pects of the site, a new vis­i­tor cen­tre, en­hanced dis­plays, ex­hi­bi­tions and a 17 me­tre view­ing tower with views over the burial mounds and the River Deben, where the ship car­ry­ing Raed­wald is be­lieved to have ar­rived.

Al­li­son Gir­ling, prop­erty op­er­a­tions man­ager, said the clo­sure was a good time to take the fas­ci­nat­ing Sut­ton Hoo story to the Suf­folk com­mu­nity, but it was also a won­der­ful chance to en­thuse and in­form peo­ple about the ex­cit­ing vol­un­teer op­por­tu­ni­ties that will be avail­able once the project is com­pleted.

“Our vol­un­teers are vi­tal to us and we don’t want to lose touch with them dur­ing this time,” she says. “They’re also keen to do some­thing while the site is closed, so what bet­ter than a road­show en­tirely run by the them?”

The trav­el­ling ex­hi­bi­tion is sup­ported by the East of Eng­land Co-op and will go to places as far as Long Melford, Laven­ham, Hadleigh, Sud­bury, Ip­swich and Felixs­towe, as well as over the Es­sex bor­der to Brightlingsea and Man­ningtree. The team will set up dis­plays in lo­cal li­braries to ex­plain the Re­leas­ing the Sut­ton Hoo Story project, us­ing the replica trea­sures as a fo­cal point, in­clud­ing the iconic Saxon hel­met, belt buckle and shoul­der clasp.

“The aim is to gen­er­ate in­ter­est in Sut­ton Hoo, es­pe­cially among com­mu­ni­ties that

might not be fa­mil­iar with it, to talk about vol­un­teer­ing from per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence and the wide range of op­por­tu­ni­ties that will be avail­able,” says Al­li­son. There are no bar­ri­ers to vol­un­teer­ing, and peo­ple

‘The aim is to gen­er­ate in­ter­est in Sut­ton Hoo, es­pe­cially among com­mu­ni­ties that might not be fa­mil­iar with it’

can use ex­ist­ing skills and knowl­edge, or train in some­thing new. The youngest vol­un­teer at Sut­ton Hoo is 12 and the el­dest is 92, says Al­li­son. There are the usual op­por­tu­ni­ties to work with the pub­lic in the shop, cafe and re­cep­tion, but when the im­proved site re­opens there will be ex­cit­ing open­ings for vol­un­teers to help bring the Sut­ton Hoo world to life with en­hanced guided tours, thought-pro­vok­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and in­stal­la­tions, a more dra­matic ex­hi­bi­tion hall that recre­ates the Saxon world and a lively schools’ ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme. Peo­ple will­ing to get in­volved could find them­selves on train­ing cour­ses learn­ing tra­di­tional skills such as leather work­ing, felt­ing or cos­tume mak­ing, as well as other creative ac­tiv­i­ties.

The road­show will be trav­el­ling un­til mid March. Sut­ton Hoo is sched­uled to re­open in the spring of 2019.

ABOVE: Tran­mer House and one of the burial mounds at Sut­ton Hoo.LEFT: The Sut­ton Hoo replica hel­met.RIGHT: A lively ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme is part of the Sut­ton Hoo ex­pe­ri­ence. Pupils from Mel­ton Pri­mary School get in­volced in a Time Trav­ellers event.

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