Sutton Woo-Hoo!

I’m still trying to get my head around the idea that I am all the way across the other side of the world. England is damp and green, with layers and layers of history crammed into tiny spaces. It is also hilariously small. Every time I plug an address into the GPS and it tells me I’ll be there in less than an hour, I actually laugh.

This week, I went to Sutton Hoo, the Anglo-Saxon burial ground where, 70 years ago, an untouched 7th century ship burial was discovered. The burial ground is covered in grave mounds, and I walked among them trying to feel something. I don’t know what I was trying to feel. I had so much riding on this visit, I was bound to be disappointed. My kids were being noisy, there was a loud tractor hedging nearby, and a big guided tour seemed to get in every photo I took. And then… Mirko took the kids off (there was much talk of impending wees on the video footage when I watched it again this evening), and the tractor faded into the distance, and the guided tour moved away, and there were a few quiet moments: the wind rose off the estuary and shivered across the long grass, and a gull squealed, and my blood sped as if a door had opened and the past was right there with me. Just for a moment. Then the door shut again and the tractor noise was back and I had a family to find, but it was enough.

Now I’m sitting here in a warm little cottage on a wet Suffolk evening, drinking a glass of wine and listening to Hammock and working on my story. A thousand words came out without my really intending to write anything, so that’s a good sign. I’ve been stuck with this story for a while. Expectations too high. But there’s something about paying thousands of dollars for a research trip that galvanises you. That and the occasional door opening somewhere, and letting a little bit of mystery through. Hu seo þrag gewat, agenap under nihthelm, swa heo no wære.

6 thoughts on “Sutton Woo-Hoo!

  1. I’m curious how we’ll visit The Hoo, as the A-S rappers called it, in your novel. Love love love seeing the story back in history.

  2. I grinned with recognition at your mention of distance Kim. I’ve been living in London 6 years now, and I still get a kick out if the fact I can go to Bath or Winchester on an easy day trip.

  3. Well, that’s a turn around from the Queenslanders’ fave saying “just up the road” when it’s probably a 24 hour trip!
    I’m jealous, Kim.

  4. Reading this entry reminds me of the time my Canadian friend came to stay and found it hysterical that I consider a 45 min trip to be a long drive! Although conversely, when I visited her in Vancouver, I did get a laugh when she pointed out a 75 year old house and told me it was a museum because it was so old!

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