Long long ago, an Anglo-Saxon noble was buried within a 90 foot ship in a mound at Sutton Hoo, just across the river from Woodbridge, in Suffolk. He was almost certainly King Raedwald, who died c 624. The ship was first discovered in 1939 but not much remained of the original ship, just the impressive imprint of a ghost in the sand.
Sutton Hoo has welcomed visitors to the site for many years and attempts have been made to reconstruct the ship, including a half-size replica but now everything has come together so that a full-size replica is being built by The Ship’s Company, currently set for launch in 2025.
The Sutton Hoo Ship’s Company was formed in 2016 with the sole purpose of creating a permanent and authentic replica of the Anglo-Saxon ship. The team is made up of professionals, volunteers and enthusiasts who are working together to fully understand the dimensions and construction methods. The ship will be built in the newly opened, Longshed, a purpose-built unit gifted to the town and dedicated to the maritime history and education.
The Ship’s Company is a group of people with a strong desire – and a collective will – to see this build to completion. The town of Woodbridge has a rich boat building heritage and a beautiful waterfront providing an ideal setting for such an iconic project. So much can be learned from the research, design and construction by bringing the King’s ship back to life in the same place that it came to its end.
Building a Saxon ship using authentic ship-building methods will have its challenges but where we don’t have the skills in house we will contract experts, such as marine archaeologists, ship architects, shipwrights and experts in green wood working. Together with strong academic support from the Universities of York and Southampton we will see that we record and learn from, every stage.
Bringing the ship back to life and observing it back on the River Deben will be a sight to behold. The King’s ship will be resurrected to its full ninety-foot length in The Longshed, Woodbridge. From there it will slip once more into the King’s River to grace the waters and tides again, reconnecting our Anglo-Saxon maritime heritage with a modern-day sense of discovery.
The project is predominantly run by volunteers who offer a wealth of experience in boat building, project management, archaeology, history and beyond, but as the project increases in size, we will be ready to welcome more people into the team.
If you have time to spare and would like to be involved by helping behind the scenes with the smooth running of the project or have the skills to help with the building process, we would like to hear from you. A project of this size is reliant on volunteers to provide expertise in everything from health and safety to sharpening tools and from bookkeeping to providing demonstrations and tours, so if you have been involved in anything like this before or have transferable work skills please get in contact by completing our application form.
Current roles include boatbuilders, guides, a tour administrator, social media creator, finance administrator, creative woodworkers and rowers! Please note that all of our volunteering opportunities require applicants to be 18+.
Follow us here on icanbea... for specific information on volunteering opportunities and check our website for further details.