A walk around Sutton Hoo

 A feature from the February 2016 issue of Suffolk Norfolk Life magazine
Suffolk Norfolk Life February 2016Click to view this issue »
Nature, Places
The latest adventure from the two Doggies – A walk around Sutton Hoo…

The burial mounds of Sutton Hoo held a secret, an unknown story no-one knew until a few months before the outbreak of the Second World War. They now hold another secret but one I will share with you. We set out on our intended walk to explore the archaeological excavation that was revealed in 1939, when a new discovery was made: we were on the wrong route. We were on the Pinewood Walk. It didn’t matter, as the sun was shining and despite the biting wind the clear blue sky spurred us on. So after taking the blue trail through the woods, which took us about 40 minutes, we made our way to the yellow trail to discover the Burial Ground. The look on Harry’s and Lily’s faces was a picture, so was my mum’s for that matter. “At least we didn’t get lost,” I protested. I am known for my poor sense of direction. However, on this day it was just a blatant lack of common sense. This aside, it was a beautiful day and it added to the fun and adventure.

Before we started on the blue trail we did take in the impressive view of Tranmer House. Its original name was Sutton Hoo House. It was kindly gifted to the National Trust by the Trustees of the Annie Tranmer Trust in 1998, hence the name change. Built in 1910, the Edwardian mansion and its arable land was purchased in 1926 by Colonel Frank Pretty, a retired military officer who had recently married. In 1934, Frank Pretty died, leaving his wife Edith and young son Robert. Following his death, Mrs Pretty became interested in Spiritualism. A spiritualist friend of Mrs Pretty apparently looked out from the house and saw a ghostly vision on the burial mounds, which inspired the Sutton Hoo dig.

Basil Brown, a self-taught Suffolk archaeologist who had taken up full-time investigations of Roman sites for the Ipswich Museum, was enlisted by Mrs Pretty, and some promising finds were made. He soon unearthed the remains of an enormous burial, later identified as a 7th-century Saxon ship and probably the last resting-place of King Rædwald of East Anglia. In September 1939, a treasure trove inquest determined that the fabulous grave goods unearthed from the ship were Mrs Pretty’s property to do with as she chose. Within days, she had made the greatest donation in giving the treasure to the British Museum. In recognition of this, Prime Minister Winston Churchill later offered Mrs Pretty the honour of a CBE; however, she declined.

Read the full article in the February 2016 issue of Suffolk Norfolk Life Magazine
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