A replica of the Sutton Hoo lyre currently in the British museum

Early in July 2001 my partner embarked on his first luthiery project, constructing a replica of a saxon lyre from instructions and plans found online. These pages record the process step by step from the initial outlines to the finished instrument.

The Lyre is one of the earliest known stringed instruments and appears across Europe and Africa from early times. In design, the version played by the Anglo-Saxon people is simple, consisting of pieces of wood hollowed out in the centre to form a sound chamber, with strings stretched across, supported by a bridge and played by plucking and strumming. One of the best known examples is the Sutton Hoo lyre, discovered during the archaeological excavation of a burial mound in Suffolk, which contained the treasure laden ship of a seventh century king.

A detailed examination of the Sutton Hoo lyre and the plans for building a replica as shown on this site can be found in the article The Saxon Lyre: History, Construction, and Playing Techniques by Dofinn-Hallr Morrisson and Thóra Sharptooth of Vassar College.

Please note this instrument is still being constructed and the website shows progress thus far, the site will be updated as and when the next stages are complete and will eventually show the finished instrument with notes and comments on stringing and tuning.

Interested in this project? Why not contact Blue & Forest

Step 1 - Choosing Materials

Step 2 - Design & Drawing

Step 3 - Cutting the Body

Step 4 - Making the Tailpiece

Step 5 - Cutting the Belly & Back

Step 6 - Making the Bridge

Step 7 - Glueing the Belly & Back

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