Visit Sutton Hoo
The National Trust now own this important archaeological site. As a consequence it is very well regulated and laid out with an excellent museum and guided tours ( which are at extra cost).
There are several other Sutton Hoo tips written by other people so I'll not go into detail except to say that the exhibition's reconstruction of the ship, in which they believe the nobleman was buried, is extremely good. The treasures found on the site are now predominantly held on display in the British Museum but the replicas and the artefacts exhibited here all help to convey a sense of the excitement that the excavations must have created at the time. It is certainly lucky for us that the tomb robbers didn't find the treasure otherwise our knowledge of these ancient times in East Anglia would have been more impoverished.
Evidence from coins and other artefacts have placed the burials at around 625 - 650AD. Every part of the Nobleman's body has been dissolved away in the acidic soils but some of his gold plated items have been preserved and these are wonderful to see.
We're really glad we visited this place. One might think there isn't much there - some reconstructed grassy mounds and stone covered graves - but the site's importance in English history is huge and we were both very excited to have had the chance to see it.
Admission for adults is £7.15 and children £3.70 (updated in 2013).
- Historical Travel
This windmill was built in 1836, and is believed to have been a wedding gift to Pierce Trott. It was later bought by the Buttrum family, who operated it until 1928. It was designed by John Whitmore, the noted Suffolk millwright. It's open to visitors (although I arrived too late to tour the inside).
Feed the ducks and swans on the River Deben
There is a terrific riverside walk starting from the train station. At first it takes you past all of the small boats and the sailing club and there is an opportunity to feed the ducks and swans. We were there when the tide was out and the mud was up! The swans were keen to get at the food being thrown from the side and made their way by pushing themselves through the mud. It was clearly too much like hard work to step or walk through the mud so they just created a long furrow by pushing with their hind legs up to the wall.
The photo shows how mucky they get in the process.
If you walk further along you leave behind the town and walk between the river and the fields. It's great for birdwatching along here - particularly when the tide is out and the mud is exposed.
Take a boat ride on Regardless
In the October school half term week the boat was doing a brisk trade with two trips round the Havergate Island a day. Apparently though it normally only runs the one hour trip on a daily basis between April to September, weather permitting. You can step on board from Orford Quay.
It's not just the birdlife that is of interest. Pete, the skipper provides a running commentary about the recent history of the island which has been used as a military test bed for explosions. The strange temple like structures seen from the boat are supposed to be the lids on the explosion site. If the tests get out of hand the lids were expected to fall down sealing and snuffing out the fires. Clearly this didn't happen because the structures are still intact.
Havergate island is well known for its Avocets - wonderful black and white wading birds with upturned beaks. We saw a large flock of them wheeling around in the sunlight. They'd been disturbed by the Marsh Harrier and one or two pluckier birds were chasing it off.
Pete also stops by the two lobster pots and pulls up the catch. The second one had a lobster and two other kinds of crabs. I couldn't help feeling that this had all been staged - but that didn't matter it was fun to see the catch and at least the creatures lived to see another day.
The hour long trip costs £7 for adults and £5 for children.
Visit Orford castle
If you choose to visit the castle in Winter time it's best not to go on a Tuesday or Wednesday because it is closed. We were there on a Tuesday. We still got to walk around the base of the castle keep - all that is left remaining. Apparently there is a spiral staircase to get to the top to enjoy the views over the landscape.
The castle was built during during the 12th century reign of King Henry II and it would have given a splendid view over much of that part of the coastline and the important port of Orford. Since then a long sand bar has developed across the entrance of the port and the town of Orford has lost much of its strategic importance.
The sign in the second picture gives you an impression of the scale of the castle in its heyday.
If you go during the summer the castle is open daily throughout the week. Entrance fees are £4.90 for adults, children £2.50; family tickets are £12.30. It's free to just wander around the grounds.
Take a walk along the pebbly beach
It's only a mile or two from Aldeburgh to Thorpeness and it's nice to stroll along the beach hearing the waves breaking and water rushing back over the pebbles.
Other hardy souls set up their little tents and lines on the beach in the hope of catching their supper. It's a bit too sedentary for me but each to their own.
You can park along the car park foreshore and over the other side of the coast road north of Aldeburgh is a Nature reserve called the Haven. There is a circular path you can take which will get you closer to the wildlife - if that is your interest.
Next to the car park is an impressive sculpture of Scallop shells made of hardened metal. Kids seemed to enjoy playing on it. There is a photo of it taken at dusk.
Sutton Hoo - Shop and Cafe
As at all National Trust properties, there is a shop selling all sorts of things, from books to postcards - so nothing different here. But do have a browse through the leaflets available about other attractions in the nearby area - you'll be surprised just how much there is to do and how many places you've never heard of.
And after you've looked at the main exhibition, and walked out to the grave site (or further if the weather's nice), stop in the cafe for a cuppa, and maybe a slice of home-made cake. You'll be glad you did !
Sutton Hoo - the Visitor Centre
The visitor centre was built in 2001. One building contains the ever-present National Trust shop, offices and the all-important café, whilst the other building is the exhibition hall.
The exhibition hall has an excellent display about Sutton Hoo, the history of the time and the findings at the site, and contains many original artefacts, plus copies of the most important find, including the helmet. The main item is the life-size reconstruction of part of the ship that was found, complete with all the furnishings of the burial chamber. As was the custom, the deceased king was buried with everything he would need in the afterlife, from his sword, helmet and shield, to clothes, cooking pots and utensils, and even a set of bone pieces for a gaming board to occupy him if he got bored waiting (had they invented chess then ?).
Sutton Hoo - Burial Ground of Kings
Sutton Hoo is an estate of 254 acres on a ridge overlooking the River Deben, just south of Woodbridge. Within the grounds lies the burial ground - the final resting places of two Saxon kings and members of their aristocracy. There are known to have been some 17 burial mounds of varying sizes - most of which are still visible today. You can walk from the car park and visitor centre out to the burial ground, along clearly defined gravel paths only, and there are other walks around the estate.
The reason that Sutton Hoo is such an important site is because of what was discovered in the largest mound when it was excavated in 1939 - a whole ship containing all sorts of treasure. The best finds are now in the British Museum in London, but copies of some of the artefacts can be seen in the visitor centre, and special exhibitions are regularly held with original finds on display.
I have a number of pictures - too many for one tip - so I will write about the visitor centre separately.
Walk along the river
For a nice peaceful walk, head for the small train station at Woodbridge, either go across the track if safe to do so, or go over the bridge and you can see the Mill to your left, and boats, boats, and more boats.
There are a lot of sailing clubs here, and on the particular day we were there, there was a yacht race being held.
The walk can be either long or short, we did not go right around the path, but found a seat and watched the yachts head for the finishing post.
There are plenty of seats along the pathway, and there is always something to watch, as well as boats, there are swans and ducks.
- Adventure Travel
- Sailing and Boating
Sutton Hoo - The Famous Anglo Saxon Burial Site
Sutton Hoo, the site of the famous archeological discoveries of Anglo-Saxon treasure, is nearby Woodbridge, and administered by The National Trust. While the most spectacular of the artifacts have (of course) been wisked off to the British Museum, the exhibition hall is, nevertheless, full of fascinating displays; these include replicas of the famous helmut, specter amd gold buckle, plus many original items, with very clear, understandable explications of their uses and purposes. There are also careful displays describing the process of the excavation over the years, AND an almost full scale reconstruction of the largest burial mound.
The short video that plays near the entrance is very artistic, but not too informative. You do get the opportunity to hear some renderings of early English poetry.
The burial site itself is available for a peaceful walk. There is no excavation going on at this time (2005), and the mounds have been closed and re-established. Therefore you get an idea of what the area looked like for the hundreds of years before the site was officially explored (as opposed to the unofficial exploration by graverobbers!). It is lovely countryside, with views down to the river. The walk around the burial site takes about 40 minutes; there are also some wildlife walks on the property.
The small restaurant is quite pleasant. There is also a children's playground, and picnic area. All in all, a very pleasant day out.
- Museum Visits
- Family Travel
The Shire Hall
Built by Thomas Seckford in 1575, this is a classic Tudor-style building. It's the centre of the town, standing on Market Hill.
- Historical Travel
Take a walk along the River Deben
The River Deben links Woodbridge to the sea. Strolling along its banks, one can get a good look at the local fishing and pleasure boats, and enjoy views of the town.
- Hiking and Walking
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