Reconstructing the Sutton Hoo Ship

Constructing the ship

Featured image: Constructing the ship © Sutton Hoo Ship’s Company

Over the past 6 years, volunteers at the Sutton Hoo Ship’s Company have been working on an experimental archaeology project to build a replica of the famous ship excavated at Sutton Hoo. David Keeble, our guest writer for this week and Volunteer Coordinator at the Ship’s Company, tells us all about it.

The Sutton Hoo Ships Company was formed in 2016 by a group of people with a collective desire to resurrect the Anglo-Saxon ship buried at Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge Suffolk, in or around 625AD. The aim of the project is to turn the famous ghost imprint into a living reality and as an experimental archaeology project to create an interpretation of the Anglo-Saxon mound 1 ship that will provide the best means of testing and understanding how the ship might have been constructed and how it might have been used under a range of different conditions.

Black and white photograph of mound 1 ship excavated at Sutton Hoo
the mound 1 ship burial, excavated in 1939

By using modern technologies and a range of professional skills to interpret data from records of the 1939 and 1967 excavations, a ship will be constructed based on that data and on the current understanding of the materials and building methods that would have been used by the Anglo-Saxon shipbuilders.

Once constructed sea trials will begin to test hypotheses regarding how the boat was sailed or rowed, its purpose, where it might have travelled and other aspects that will help further our understanding of Anglo Saxon life and culture and in particular uncover more of the Sutton Hoo burial ship mysteries.

The project is based at the Longshed in Woodbridge and is a community engagement project with the involvement of many volunteers under the guidance of professional archaeologists and shipwrights, supported by other professional input from the University of Southampton Department of Maritime Archaeology, all under the direction of Martin Carver, Professor Emeritus, Department of Archaeology, University of York.

Find out more

Visit the Sutton Hoo Ship’s Company website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram to find out more information about this amazing experimental archaeology project and how to volunteer or support the project.

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