Sutton Hoo

Quite a long day today….. From Sandringham I took the coastal route right round to Sutton Hoo (not far from Ipswich). I’ve never been to Norfolk before, so thought it’d give me a bit of an idea of the place. The western part was all pretty villages, very upmarket-looking bistro pubs, and a marshy shoreline. The East coast was much more developed and, I thought, not as pretty. Cromer reminded me a bit of Llandudno (maybe it was just the selection of “bargain” shops I spotted as I drove through town).

The main attraction today was Sutton Hoo. The museum was very good, as was the guided trip to the burial mounds (which gave you access onto the mounds themselves rather than just the pathway round the edge, together with a good hour of explanation of what was found and where).

The big mound in the photo below was reconstructed to original height a few years ago, but has already sunk by a foot and a half. The others are pretty much undulations in the landscape these days. I guess that after 1400 years, the builders’ defects liability period may have expired……

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The focus of the tour was, of course, on the mound where the famous unlooted ship burial was found in the late 1930s. This may be the burial mound of King Raedwald, King of East Anglia, who died around AD625. The guide did a good job of explaining the theories surrounding the various artefacts that were found (as he also did in a short free talk on the Warrior and Horse burial earlier in the afternoon). Back in the museum, there was a helpful reconstruction showing the location of the various artefacts and how the burial might have looked (before the acid soil completely decomposed King Raedwald leaving his belt buckle and other various bits and pieces behind to mark where he’d been).

The artefacts were amazing; I particularly liked the 37 tiny little French coins (gold, so not to be sniffed at). Very very cute. The replica purse lid was also particularly fabulous (the leather purse part having decayed along with King Raedwald) – must go have a look at the original in the British Museum.

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I then drove down to the Caravan Club Site at Crystal Palace, which does seem to be very well situated (the number 3 bus to Piccadilly Circus passes just outside). The site itself is all hardstanding, but they’ve avoided too much of a car park feel by breaking it up with hedges and the like. There are a lot of caravans and motorhomes squeezed into a small space, but having said that, we are in a big city and the spacing is positively luxurious by European standards. So far, I’d say that I wouldn’t rush back to Sandringham Caravan Club Site (I’d rather have a car park to myself and a Shearings Coach at King’s Lynn) but I’d come here again…..

Oh, quick aside, as I walked into reception this evening my eye fell on an A4 piece of paper with the rectangular outline of a pitch on it and a toy car sat on top. Oh yes….. It must be some sort of national policy. I am starting to wonder if there are also funny handshakes that I haven’t been initiated into yet……. To be fair, when you’ve got a gravelled area shared by 3 or 4 vans as you have here, I can see that you don’t want people straying too far from their allotted white posts when parking up. Part of me does now want to park with the wrong rear corner to the post though and see what happens……

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