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 will be built by The Ship’s Company.
The 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.
So why build it now?
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.