Sutton Hoo - History and Facts | History Hit

Sutton Hoo

Suffolk Coastal, England, United Kingdom

Site of discovery of Anglo-Saxon ship burial.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Federico Julien / Alamy Stock Photo

About Sutton Hoo

Through excavations that began in 1939, a complete Anglo-Saxon ship burial was discovered at Sutton Hoo. It is one of the most coherent and significant finds of materials from the Anglo-Saxon period.

Sutton Hoo history

Sutton Hoo provides one of the richest sources of archaeological evidence for this period of the history of England’s development.

The discovery in 1939 changed our understanding of the some of the first chapters of English history and a time seen as backwards was illuminated as cultured and sophisticated.

In 1939, Edith Pretty, a landowner at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, asked archaeologist Basil Brown to investigate the largest of several Anglo-Saxon burial mounds on her property. Inside, he made one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries of all time.

Although it took some time to understand what these finds were, and what they meant, the discovery would prove to be an Anglo-Saxon royal burial of incomparable richness and it would revolutionise our understanding of early England.

Mrs Pretty was declared the legal owner of all of the treasures found, which she promptly donated to the British Museum; the single largest gift by a living donor ever recorded. The treasures were hidden in Aldwych underground station in London for the duration of World War Two, until peace was declared and work on investigation and analysis could begin in earnest.

There have been further excavations over the years, with some astonishing new finds, including a warrior buried with his horse and slightly newer graves of execution victims.

The land and Tranmer House has been owned by the National Trust since the 1990s and there is now a large exhibition hall, cafe, walks and a shop near the site, with a viewing tower currently being built to look over the mounds.

Sutton Hoo today

The majority of the Sutton Hoo treasures can be found on display at the British Museum today, whilst the site itself is in the care of National Trust. Visitors to the Sutton Hoo site today can explore the High Hall exhibition, Tranmer House as well as the site’s gift shop and café. The excavations of Sutton Hoo were the subject of a Netflix film, ‘The Dig’ in 2021.

Getting to Sutton Hoo

The address is Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP12 3DJ. To drive there, take the B1083 Melton to Bawdsey, follow signs from A12. The nearest train stations are Melton and Woodbridge.

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In addition to its quaint villages and picturesque landscapes, Suffolk is home to a number of fascinating historic sites.