Discovery of Sutton Hoo told by star studded cast in Netflix film

  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Tanya Mercer

Sutton Hoo is one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever made in this region, yet not many know the story of how it came to be.

Now a star studded cast is bringing it to the screen with a film that will be released on Netflix at the end of January. 

Ralph Fiennes, Carey Mulligan and Lily James are just some of those starring in ‘The Dig’ directed by Simon Stone.

The film features several Suffolk characters and that meant actors had to learn the Suffolk accent. 

Experts say the East Anglian dialects are among the hardest to get right - often sounding like West Country instead.  

Ralph Fiennes and the rest of the cast recruited the help of local man Charlie Haylock to help hone their Suffolk tones.

  • Watch to see how it was done

  • What is Sutton Hoo?

One of the burial mounds at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk Credit: ITV Anglia

Sutton Hoo is home to two medieval cemeteries that date back over 1,300 years.

The burial site is thought to be the final resting place of King Raedwald, who ruled in the seventh century. 

He was laid to rest in a 90ft oak ship, surrounded by his treasures. Whilst the boat no longer exists, having rotted away, an imprint of the boat was found.

Lots of the sites discoveries shined a light for historians on the dark ages.

  • How was it discovered?

Edith Pretty lived on the grounds of Tranmer House until she died in 1942. Convinced there was more to her back garden than a large field, she became dedicated to uncovering its true history.

Edith appointed self taught archaeologist Basil Brown, played by Ralph Fiennes, to start the dig. After a year of digs and a number of important discoveries, Basil uncovered the ship burial. Noting its importance Cambridge University were called in to help. 

Edith Pretty became the owner of the priceless treasures found on the site. However, rather than profiteering, she gave them all to the nation. The treasures can be seen to this day at the British Museum.

The film is based on a 2007 book by John Preston, the nephew of Peggy, who was the first archaeologist to see a glimpse of gold in the soil.

On the run up to filming Fiennes took advice on how to nail the perfect Suffolk accent. You will be able to see if he succeeded when The Dig is released on Netflix from 29 January.