Through the lens: the women who captured the story of Sutton Hoo in 1939

  • Watch a report by ITV Anglia's Tanya Mercer

An extraordinary photographic record taken in 1939 by two amateur photographers of the Sutton Hoo dig is now available for all to enjoy.

Mercie Lack and Barbara Wagstaff captured the excavation of the Anglo-Saxon burial site, as it happened at the site in Suffolk, just before the war started.

It is classed as one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time.

Their images have been preserved and now digitised into a collection of more than four thousand images.

"This has been a project over the last couple of years to preserve and digitise those photographs," said Laura Howarth, the Archaeology and Engagement Manager for the National Trust.

"As part of that we've created flickable albums which visitors can browse and experience through these photographers' eyes what happened here in that summer," she added.

Pictures from the collection at Sutton Hoo Credit: National Trust

The collection charts the story of archaeologist Basil Brown and the team of archaeologists as they unearthed the fossil of the ship.

It was one of the world's most important archeological discoveries and completely changed our understanding of the dark ages.

The photos have been preserved, catalogued and digitized including the very detailed annotations.

The original photos of the dig in 1939 Credit: ITV Anglia

"These provide an invaluable layer that otherwise would have been lost, so basically a time capsule of information," Laura Howarth added.

The story of Sutton Hoo was made into a film earlier this year starring Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan.

However, the two female photographers were not featured in film. The photographer was instead portrayed as a fictional male character.

The National Trust hopes this collection will go some way to right that wrong and to recognise and celebrate the two women Mercie Lack and Barbara Wagstaff and their incredible contribution to recording the Sutton Hoo discovery.