Recently cited in The Telegraph as “rivalling Stonehenge as England’s premier ancient site”, and described as ‘’Britain’s Pyramids’, we’re privileged to have this iconic historic gem, growing in popularity, on our doorstep.

Nestled in the heart of Suffolk, just a stone’s throw away from The Bell in Saxmundham, lies Sutton Hoo—a site that is rapidly ascending the ranks as one of the UK’s premier tourist attractions. The Bell, perfectly positioned to cater to history enthusiasts and curious travellers, is delighted to showcase the rising star of Sutton Hoo as a must-visit destination for 2024. Even better? The Bell offers a stunning place to rest after a hard day’s exploring.

Chris Leadbitter, Travel Correspondent at The Telegraph describes the scenes. “There is even a shroud of mist, keeping close to the grass, beyond the mounds of the Royal Burial Ground, where the land slips down through the trees to the broad curve of the River Deben. And the wan end-of-year daylight plays its part, slanting in low through the increasingly bare branches.

Squint – and, with the angle of the sun, I have to, holding my hand to my face – and you might think yourself in a different time. But for the low grumble of a tractor on the farm next door, it might easily be the seventh century – and all quiet on the East Anglian front.”

Take a step back in time

As winter descends upon the Suffolk countryside, Sutton Hoo takes on an even more magical quality. The gentle slopes, swamped in eerie mist and ancient mounds, transport visitors back to the seventh century, offering a unique glimpse into East Anglia’s storied past. Sutton Hoo, often considered Britain’s most significant ancient site, reveals a vivid narrative of Anglo-Saxon warlords establishing kingdoms in a transforming Europe.

Recent archaeological discoveries, such as the unearthed remains of a temple in nearby Rendlesham, have added fresh chapters to Sutton Hoo’s already fascinating story. This idyllic village, just a short distance from The Bell, is believed to have been the seat of power for the kings of East Anglia, making Sutton Hoo their sacred burial ground. The site’s significance continues to grow, shedding light on the power, wealth, and sophistication of the society that once thrived in this region.

On the big screen

If you’re a movie fan, you’ll know that Sutton Hoo, was recently immortalised in the 2021 film “The Dig,” The site has been captivating minds since the discovery in 1938 by amateur archaeologist Basil Brown. The site, with its 18 mounds, including the iconic Mound One, offers visitors a tangible connection to the Dark Ages. The observation tower, added in 2021, provides a breathtaking view, telling the incredible tale of the effort involved in the burial rituals, especially the burial of a king in a grand ship.

Mound One, presumed to be the final resting place of Raedwald of East Anglia, holds a wealth of artefacts that would impress any seasoned historian. Among them, the meticulously reconstructed Sutton Hoo helmet, displayed at the British Museum, stands as a testament to the skilled craftsmanship of the time. The burial site also boasts a sword, a gold buckle, and trade items.

According to the Telegraph “It did not take Brown long to establish that the largest of these artificial hillocks held the metal vestiges of what had once been a sizeable sea-going ship. A ship to which careful estimation gave a length of 89ft (27m). A ship in which a king had been buried.

The events of that very English excavation – very soon, more senior figures at Ipswich Museum, Cambridge University and the British Museum would become involved, before the Second World War interrupted – is story enough in itself. So much so that, in 2021, it was turned into a film, The Dig, with Ralph Fiennes as Basil Brown, and Carey Mulligan breathing emotion into the sad tale of Edith Pretty, who would die a mere four years later.”

Sutton Hoo vs. Stonehenge

With its recent archaeological revelations, Sutton Hoo is garnering attention as “Britain’s Pyramids,” filling historical gaps and offering insights into a connected Dark-Age Britain. Unlike Stonehenge, Sutton Hoo retains an air of mystery without the burden of over-tourism. The site’s proximity to The Bell makes it an ideal day trip or extended stay for those eager to explore the region’s rich history.

The Telegraph journalist continued, “This tirelessly pretty village is thought to have been their seat of power. Sutton Hoo, just four miles to the south-west down the A1152, was their graveyard. A significant chapter of Dark Age history is shimmering in the light.”

Plan your visit

This rising star of British tourism serves as an opportunity for anyone curious about our Anglo Saxon routes to witness first hand the preserved and unveiled artefacts and landscapes that have attracted so much interest.

As The Bell welcomes guests to Saxmundham, this historic gem is an ideal complement to a stay at the boutique hotel. We’re a short drive away, and offer discounted midweek stays and weekend breaks that will help you not only get the most from your visit to Sutton Hoo, but also enjoy a little bit of luxury in our hotel.

Book your stay today.