Hoo's Waking Up?

31st May 2019

It doesn’t happen very often, and never before has a National Trust property closed for such an unprecedented period. After closing the doors back in the Autumn, six months have passed while the team at Sutton Hoo have undertaken a multi-million pound project to transform the visitor brand experience. With so much going on the team couldn’t wait to share its transformation but knew they needed to manage expectations while each phase completed.

Hoo’s Hoo?

Sutton Hoo is one of two significant Anglo Saxon discoveries in the UK, which makes it an extremely important site and one of the most interesting and unique National Trust properties in the country. The site bucks the trend in many ways compared to other Trust properties and as a destination property, the interest is not only national but international.

Sitting along the River Deben across from Woodbridge, Sutton Hoo is a site of two 6th and early 7th-century cemeteries. From the day Mrs Pretty felt intrigued to dig on some unusually placed mounds, or Hoo’s as they are known, the story of Sutton Hoo started to uncover. One of the cemeteries contained an undisturbed ship burial and a collection of signifiant artefacts including the helmet which is believed to have been worn by Anglo Saxon King Raedwald.

Hoo’s Waking Up

Our task was create a campaign and communicate the long awaited opening but work subtly enough so it could manage visitor expectations before finally unveiling in the autumn.

Sat firmly in the East, Sutton Hoo is one of the first places in the UK to see the sunrise. We developed the creative campaign line ‘Hoo’s Waking Up’ which perfectly symbolised this message and the idea that something is happening or uncovering. The long shadows slowly shorten as the sun rises to reveal new experiences but communicates the idea that some things are still hidden and will be revealed soon.


As part of the campaign we used commissioned images from lino cut illustrator Michelle Hughes www.michellehughes.co.uk  Back in her garden studio, Michelle created simple but stylised silhouettes based on photographs, cutting these shapes into lino, she hand prints with an etching press, using oil-based inks creating tonal blocks of colour.

The interpretation creative ranged across the site and has been slowly evolving as each phase completes. 

Part of the initial opening was a new ‘River View’ trail which opened along with arguably the most impressive structure, a full size skeleton representation the Anglo-Saxon ship which was discovered on site.

To communicate the changes and developments we created a suite of leaflets what to expect over the course of the year before the complete experience in the Autumn. Along side the leaflets we created a range of informative courtyard banners and signage, welcome/exit signage and café POS. 

Who’s Waking Up concept prepped visitors before visiting the site but it was equally important to explain the developments the site was taking. We wanted all visitors to be enthused by the changes but have the desire to return again and again as each phase completes.

Due to the nature of the build, various interpretation signs doubled up to keep the visitors safe whilst educating and inspiring them about the developments. 


If you’ve got an equally challenging message to communicate then email us at [email protected] or take a look at some more work we’ve created thatsbrave.co.uk/projects

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