Ralph Fiennes film 'The Dig' leads to record visitor numbers for Sutton Hoo burial site

Ralph Fiennes in the Netflix film 'The Dig'. Credit: Netflix

An Anglo Saxon burial site in Suffolk has seen record visitor numbers this year thanks to the Netflix film 'The Dig.'

The film, which stars Ralph Fiennes, Carey Mulligan and Lily James is set at Sutton Hoo.

The burial site is regarded as one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever made.

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

The latest big screen revival of the story appears to be drawing fresh interest to the site.

One of the burial mounds at Sutton Hoo. Credit: ITV News Anglia

In August the Anglo Saxon burial site had almost 33,800 visitors, a thirty per cent increase on 2019. 

August was the busiest month since the site opened in 2002. 

This year there have been in excess of 120,000 visitors.

The increase in visitor numbers is being put down to the popularity of the Netflix film, which tells the story of archaeologist Basil Brown unearthing the ancient treasure. 

The site is important to historians, as discoveries at Sutton Hoo shone a light on the secrets of medieval burials.

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 after rotting away, an imprint of the vessel was found at the site.

A 1930s photograph of the dig at Sutton Hoo. Credit: Sutton Hoo, National Trust

How was the Sutton Hoo discovered?

Edith Pretty lived on the grounds of Tranmer House until she died in 1942. She was convinced there was more to her back garden than a large field and 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 at the British Museum to this day.