Getting out with the Family – Sutton Hoo

Our reporter & parent carer, Layla, gives us her feedback on the National Trust property.

I recently visited Suffolk’s archaeological treasure Sutton Hoo with my husband and our four children. We are National Trust members and find that for an inexpensive day out with four little ones to pay for, being outside and learning about nature and history work wonders.

We have a child with additional needs and have found all National Trust properties to be brilliant for her. She has a tendency to have a sensory overload in certain situations. Supermarket lights and busy, loud indoor play are highly likely to set her off and so being in nature is such a wonderful way to feed her need for mental stimulation without overwhelming her with sensory input. She takes her time to feel plants, climb and den-build and listen to natural noises around her. The only issue we have ever had in these locations has been her tendency towards wandering off after a butterfly or something shiny or edible!

Sutton Hoo was no exception to the beauty we find in National Trust properties and grounds. Based near Woodbridge this house and grounds is easily accessible, covered by short grass or dirt tracks leading around the ancient Anglo-Saxon burial grounds and full of informative areas such as the old house and the Anglo-Saxon education centre which are interactive and interesting. The education centre included a short informative video about Anglo-Saxon life which our children enjoyed, and the many displays were full of reading material which our children happily bounced past whilst we grown-ups read aloud presuming the children were still listening! There is also a remake of a burial boat in this centre which the children (and the husband) loved exploring.

When we visited Sutton Hoo there was an archaeological event happening, in preparation for building a new viewing tower. They had a team digging the ground on that part of the land hoping to find more historical treasures. This was a free event as part of the visit and included an historian explaining to visitors what the dig was hoping to find, likely to find, and what they had found already. The children wanted to get in there and be archaeologists with the team so it was a shame there wasn’t any kind of interactive area set aside for children to play-act this role, but they did find it interesting and all came away wanting to be the next Indiana Jones.

There are some beautiful walks around the site. We did a short walk rather than one of the longer ones as the day was hot and we had not brought hats, the walk is not shaded. The children made full use of the large play area, and the café serve a lovely cool glass of elderflower juice or a good cup of tea! All in all, despite the long drive to get there, this was a day well worth doing and was very accessible for additional needs, there are ramps in place with stairs and the tracks would not be too hard to navigate for someone with physical disabilities, we will most definitely be returning!

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