A seven-mile walking trail just steps away from the county’s famous Sutton Hoo site, has been created in Suffolk’s Deben Valley revealing the hidden archaeological secrets of the area.
Walkers will be transported back 1,500 years and experience the landscape once home to a long-lost Anglo-Saxon settlement at Rendlesham where the East Anglian Kings once lived. Hidden gems from other periods of history will also be unveiled, such as a medieval priory, a stately home, a decoy pond and ancient woodland.
The trail has been created by Suffolk County Council’s Archaeological Service (SCCAS) and is one of the activities made possible by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. SCCAS received a grant of £517,300 to fund “Rendlesham Revealed: Anglo-Saxon Life in South-East Suffolk”, a community archaeological project to uncover hidden history in the area.
To guide them, walkers can download an online guide, which will point out the history along the way, as they take in meadows, open fields, woodland and riverside paths. The guide is available on the Suffolk Heritage Explorer website: heritage.suffolk.gov.uk/rendlesham
Faye Minter, Senior Archaeological Officer for SCCAS, said:
“I’m really excited that we can share more of our understanding about Anglo-Saxon England and Suffolk, with both locals and visitors, in this new way. Suffolk has an amazing Anglo-Saxon past, and in particular this area of south-east Suffolk. It was at the heart of East Anglian royal power over 1,500 years ago, with Rendlesham at its centre. With Ipswich having been an internationally important Anglo-Saxon port and town, you can start to understand how this region played a key role in our country’s history.”
Councillor Matthew Hicks, leader of Suffolk County Council, said:
“We know that our physical and mental wellbeing benefit greatly from being outdoors and being in touch with nature. As the weather starts to improve, and we are able to travel in accordance with Government guidelines, getting outside for a walk is a really positive thing to do.
“This new ‘In the footsteps of Kings’ trail in the peaceful Deben Valley countryside offers these benefits perfectly, as well as a unique and immersive experience exploring the local history. It is a great addition to the Discover Suffolk series, and available in time for the virtual Suffolk Walking Festival which begins on 22 May.”
The trail begins at Wickham Market railway station in Campsea Ashe, with other local railway stations getting involved in the project by installing information boards detailing the local Anglo-Saxon history. Each information board has a QR code which can be scanned to directly download the walking trail guide.
These have been made possible thanks to generous funding and support from East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, the Department for Transport Community Rail Development Fund, Community Rail Network Fund and Greater Anglia.
Aaron Taffera, Chairman of East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership said:
“We’re really pleased to be supporting this project and for this new opportunity to work in partnership with SCCAS. Linking the walking trail with the local railway stations makes it easier for people to enjoy the trail and promotes sustainable travel for access to the countryside. The information boards in the railway stations really bring the local heritage to life for the community and visitors, and we are glad to be a part of it.”
Walkers can choose to extend their walk a few more miles onto Melton railway station, where they will pass through the historic town of Ufford, as well as enjoy riverside views of the Deben Estuary, just over the water from Sutton Hoo.
Anne Jenkins, Director, England, Midlands and East, National Lottery Heritage Fund said:
“We are delighted to support this project, which thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, will mean that more people will be able to get involved with, protect, and learn about the exciting heritage right on their doorstep.”