VISITORS to an ancient Anglo Saxon burial site will now be able to take a step back in time like never before.

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"We felt we needed to go one step further to bring the experience to life so that our visitors could connect emotionally with what is an incredibly powerful story of the death of a king"

Elizabeth Rohde, visitor services manager at Sutton Hoo

Heritage bosses at the National Trust’s Sutton Hoo centre, near Woodbridge, will today unveil a major new exhibition.

Work is now complete on a life-size replica of the ship on which Anglo-Saxon King Raedwald was buried in back in 626AD.

Visitors will be able to step into the chamber - the original of which was discovered at Sutton Hoo in 1939 - and sample the magic of the warrior king’s final resting place.

The display was raised to first-floor level last month with the help of builders from Gipping Construction and WPP Architects in Ipswich.

The exhibit, entitled The King is Dead, is officially launched tomorrow but visitors will be able to get a sneak preview today.

As part of the new experience people will not only be able to walk through the royal burial chamber to pay homage to the King and get close to his replica grave goods, they will also be able to experience the sounds and smells of the past.

Elizabeth Rohde, visitor services manager at Sutton Hoo, who has been spearheading the project, said: “It’s been a busy couple of months.

“We’ve raised and enclosed the replica burial chamber to enable visitors to step inside for the first time.

“We’ve changed the light levels for a candle effect, as well as added smells and sounds to create an authentic atmosphere.

“The king has undergone a makeover and the replica grave goods, which are full of craftsmanship, have been re-gilded. We’re delighted with the end result and really hope it will give visitors a unique experience.”

She said it was hoped that people would now be able to connect with the stories behind the world famous site.

“Until now, visitors have been able to walk to the atmospheric burial mounds and view the royal burial chamber from a distance,” she said.

“But we felt we needed to go one step further to bring the experience to life so that our visitors could connect emotionally with what is an incredibly powerful story of the death of a king.

“When Raedwald died it was a time of great change and upheaval. What we have done is re-created that night to try and give visitors a feel for what it might have been like. It is an important story, one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time and a vital part of our heritage.”

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