Transforming the visitor experience of an iconic Anglo-Saxon burial ground
Architecture, Exhibition Design, Wayfinding, Interpretation, Selected
In close collaboration with the National Trust’s archaeological and visitor engagement teams, Nissen Richards Studio has re-designed the visitor journey around the Scheduled Ancient Monument of Sutton Hoo. The Anglo-Saxon royal burial ground for King Rædwald, comprised of 17 burial mounds and the surrounding landscape, is considered one of Europe’s most significant archaeological sites.
The carefully-choreographed new journey includes thresholds, interpretive moments and major exhibition displays, as well as a radical intervention in the form of a 17m-high viewing tower, allowing views over the ancient burial site for the very first time. The Viewing Tower, which had to be designed with exceptional levels of architectural and archaeological sensitivity, is located in the heart of Top Hat Wood, giving visitors a never-before-seen view over the burial ground mounds, as well as back towards the river, re-connecting the site to the River Deben, from where the burial ship was originally dragged.
The scheme also includes a new 1:1 scale representation of the 27m-long ancient burial ship itself, whose imprint was discovered within the site’s main burial mound during 1939’s great archaeological dig.
The Sutton Hoo project has attracted worldwide media attention since re-opening and went on to win a RIBA East Award, a RIBA National Award, a Galvanizers’ Association Architecture Award and, finally, the Alternative Stirling Prize, as voted for by the general public.
The National Trust
Price & Myers
Terra Firma Landscape Consultancy
photography: Gareth Gardner