If you are a Sky customer you can enter draws for out and about experiences with Sky VIP. I’m not a very lucky person when it comes to winning things but always enter the prize draws. To my surprise, I won two sets of tickets at the end of last year. A chance to become a National Trust member for the day and an English Heritage ticket. With covid being a bit of a nightmare at the end of last year we have only just been able to think about using our tickets. We decided to visit Sutton Hoo with our National Trust ticket as I thought the children would find the exhibitions interesting.
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What is Sutton Hoo?
Sutton Hoo is an estate in Suffolk. It is home to two medieval cemeteries, one of them a ship burial. This is believed to be the final resting place of an Anglo-Saxon king. At the site, archaeologists found the ship’s burial chamber which contained extraordinary treasures. Recently Netflix produced the film The Dig based on the book of the same name which documents the story of this amazing find.
The Sutton Hoo Exhibition
We arrived at Sutton Hoo quite early and decided to visit the exhibition first as it is close to the entrance. Outside the main buildings is a steel sculpture, a replica of the Anglo-Saxon ship found there. I thought this was a great detail as we were able to explain to the children what was found there. The sculpture also has a representation of the burial chamber. It has etchings that mark out the layout of where they discovered the treasures. A perfect sculpture for our visual family.
The High Hall exhibition is where you can discover the treasures found at Sutton Hoo. This exhibition houses replicas as the original artefacts can be seen in The British Museum. It was fascinating to see what was buried with an Anglo-Saxon king.
The High Hall exhibition also displays life in the Anglo-Saxon world. There are also short films that you can watch but our family likes to keep moving so it is very rare that we can watch them.
Visiting The Royal Burial Ground
It’s about a twenty-minute walk to the Burial Ground but we didn’t really notice the time it took as Sutton Hoo’s grounds are so pretty. Apparently, we took the accessible route to get there. There are quite a few ways to walk so make sure you pick up a map. We did wear boots as it had been raining quite a lot during the week before our visit. But the route we took wasn’t muddy at all.
There is a viewing tower at the Royal Burial Ground which has been recently added.
We were able to climb to the top of the tower which gave us a fantastic view of the grounds. This definitely made the trip more interesting for the children as they could easily view the mounds that we were talking about.
There was a guided tour visiting the Royal Burial Ground. I have since discovered these are free tours run by the Sutton Hoo Society. If there is availability you can book to join the tour on the day of your visit. This is something we wouldn’t have been able to do with Ethan but I would love to join a tour if we could in the future. It would be amazing to learn more about the burial site. The viewing tower does have a map and the details of the burial site.
Visiting Tranmer House
You can also enter Tranmer House during your visit to Sutton Hoo. Inside there are audio and visual exhibits that transport you back to 1939. The year Edith Pretty and Basil Brown discovered the Great Ship Burial.
We stopped at the house one the way down to the Royal Burial Ground. After watching The Dig* I was interested to see inside Tranmer House, to see where Edith Pretty once lived. It must have been an amazing place to live and the house is full of history. You can actually book to stay in apartments there with the National Trust.
Eating at The King’s River Café
We actually made two stops at Sutton Hoo’s King’s River Café. The first was a lunch break as we had left home early and we knew the children would need something to eat. Ethan has a very limited diet but we were able to find a sausage roll for him to eat. We had something from their sandwich selection and Little E had one of the children’s lunch boxes. We also warmed up with hot chocolates.
After our walk to the burial ground, we visited again to treat ourselves to the most amazing chocolate fudge cake and tea.
Will We Be Returning to Sutton Hoo?
Sutton Hoo’s grounds are so much bigger than I was expecting them to be. There are five walks on the map and we only managed to complete one. Ethan was keen to follow the sculpture trail but we run out of time. There is also a playground that I’m sure the children would love to explore. We would love to return if we get the chance.