Time Team using latest technology to investigate Sutton Hoo

Time Team at Sutton Hoo

Archaeological experts (L-R) John Gater, Jimmy Adcock and Mike Langton at Sutton Hoo for the Time Team and National Trust project - Credit: Time Team

TV's Time Team is using the latest advancements in archaeological technology to carry out new research into Suffolk's world famous Anglo-Saxon royal burial site.

The National Trust has launched a new research project with Time Team in the hope of shedding new light on Sutton Hoo.

It involves using new non-invasive geophysics surveys - ground-penetrating radar of the Royal Burial Ground and magnetometry of a field close to another known Anglo-Saxon cemetery.

The replica helmet on display in the High Hall at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, East of England

The replica helmet on display in the High Hall at Sutton Hoo - Credit: National Trust Images / Phil Morley

The new collaboration will help set the direction for further research.

The discovery of an Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo in 1939 has enjoyed renewed national interest this year thanks to the hugely-successful Netflix film The Dig.

Laura Howarth, archaeology and engagement manager at Sutton Hoo, said; “The Sutton Hoo landscape is layered with people’s stories stretching back over the centuries and whilst we know some of these stories, there is still so much more we could learn.

Sutton Hoo in Autumn, November 2021

Jimmy Adcock and Mike Langton of Guideline Geo MALÅ carrying out GPR on behalf of Time Team at Sutton Hoo - Credit: National Trust Images/James Dobson

"These non-invasive techniques paint a subsurface picture of what lies beneath our feet, allowing us to hopefully discover more about how different people have used this landscape whilst causing the least amount of damage.

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"Using the latest in cutting edge technology, the survey techniques being used here have the potential to detect archaeological features such as field boundaries, building foundations and ploughed-out burial mounds, but we shall just have to wait and see what is actually discovered."

Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) data processing at Sutton Hoo

Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) data processing at Sutton Hoo (credit) Time Team - Credit: Time Team

Time Team - which last aired seven years ago - is set to return with new archaeology investigations that will be streamed online via YouTube.

Working alongside National Trust archaeologists, a series of investigations have been planned to build up a more complete picture of Sutton Hoo.

Sutton Hoo in Autumn, November 2021

A small terrain vehicle is used to carry out GPR of the Royal Burial Ground at Sutton Hoo - Credit: National Trust Images/James Dobson

Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) has been used on the Royal Burial Ground, including some areas for the first time, while magnetometry surveys have also taken place on a scale that’s not been possible before, with high resolution, next to the High Hall exhibition, where in the early 2000s an Anglo-Saxon folk cemetery was discovered.

Another technique Time Team will be using is photogrammetry, the science of extracting 3D information from photographs, supported by Aerial Cam, to help bring the landscape to life in the form of an interactive 3D digital model.

Sutton Hoo in Autumn, November 2021

An aerial view of the Royal Burial Ground at Sutton Hoo - Credit: National Trust Images/James Dobson

It is the first time that a field known as Garden Field, next to the High Hall exhibition, has been surveyed using GPR and the first time that the whole of this field has been surveyed using magnetometry.

Tim Taylor, Creator and Series Producer of Time Team, said: “The Dig was about one man and one woman’s desire to find out more about our past.

"I think Basil Brown and Mrs Edith Pretty would be delighted and intrigued about the new technology. Complementing our work with the National Trust, Time Team will also be working with Professor Martin Carver and the Sutton Hoo Ship’s Company to film an exclusive documentary about the reconstruction of the amazing Sutton Hoo ship. It’s safe to say we’re looking forward to being immersed in the Sutton Hoo story!”

MALA ground-penetrating radar in action at the Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon burial site

MALA ground-penetrating radar in action at the Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon burial site - Credit: Time Team

The results of the latest investigations will be shared by Time Team and the National Trust in the spring.

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