‘Make Ship Happen’ campaign launched

ship reconstruction The 'Make Ship Happen’ fundraising campaign will fund the reconstruction of the 7th century ‘Sutton Hoo’ ship. Image: Make Ship Happen

A national fundraising campaign is set to ‘Make Ship Happen’ for a £1m project to build a full-size reconstruction of the 7th century ‘Sutton Hoo’ ship.

The venture will bring together archaeologists, historians, experts in construction and shipbuilding and other skilled volunteers to reconstruct the mastless, clinker-built rowboat buried beneath the sand of Sutton Hoo across the River Deben from Woodbridge, Suffolk, for 13 centuries.

Philip Leech, chairman and director of the Sutton Hoo Ship’s Company, which is responsible for the build, said: “The build is a serious scientific endeavour and an example of experimental archaeology which is carried out by replicating or approximating the feasibility of ancient cultures.

“This is done by employing a number of methods, techniques, analyses, and approaches, based upon archaeological source material – in this instance raising a ghost ship based on the indent left by the original vessel.

“Everything will be carefully recorded so we can learn from the construction.”

Build sponsorship

Different parts of the ship will then be offered up for sponsorship to pay for the build, which is likely to take about two years to complete.

The team will be using digital plans produced at Southampton University from the measurements taken at the excavation. The first stage will be to complete a fifth size model, using wood supplied by the Crown Estate, before building the full-size vessel.

The ship will be built inside The Longshed on the site of the former Whisstocks boatyard in Woodbridge.

Once built, it will be sea-trialled and used to learn about Anglo-Saxon skills, trade and seamanship. Later it will become a movable exhibition.

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