From the Dark Ages: Netflix The Dig Sparks Banquet About Sutton Hoo | archeology

That was when I spotted #Suttonho It was rumored on Twitter that Sue Brunning knew this wasn’t going to be like any other week.

as such Curator of the Early Middle Ages Group In the The British Museum, And custodian of Sutton Hoo’s incredible treasures, Brunning is well accustomed to caring for what is fair among the museum’s best exhibits.

But with the launch last week of drillingA major Netflix movie about the dramatic discovery of the Anglo-Saxon cemetery and artefacts in the Suffolk Field in 1939, interest in Sutton Hoo has grown.

Traffic To Museum web pages about the treasure Triple, while Video Bruning recorded it about the iconic Sutton Hoo helmet, which has been rebuilt from fragments discovered in the grave, has been seen 650,000 times since mid-January.

To your blog By Brunning about the discovery shattered under the weight of attention, while her inbox and Twitter feed It was flooded with inquiries. For a while, the movie was the most watched on Netflix in the UK.

“I knew the film would be popular with fellow archaeologists and people interested in the plays of the period and the like,” said Brüning, who advised the actors and filmmakers behind the production, “but it seemed to surpass those usual audiences and really touch a nerve with the people.

Carrie Mulligan as Edith Pretty and Ralph Fiennes as Basil Brown in a scene from The Dig.
Carrie Mulligan as Edith Pretty and Ralph Fiennes as Basil Brown in a scene from The Dig. Photo: Larry Horrix / Netflix

I mean, I think Sutton Hoo deserves the direction of course, but to actually see it [doing so] It was surreal in many ways. “

It was a similar story on the site of Sutton Hoo itself, the home and grounds formerly owned by Edith Pretty, portrayed by Carrie Mulligan in the movie, which commissioned local archaeologist Basil Brown, played by Ralph Finn, to excavate large hills that stood on its grounds.

Sutton Hoo is now managed by the National Trust, and while the new visitor center and Pretty House are currently closed, Their website The social media channels were also “crazy,” he added Laura Howarth, Director of Archeology and Site Participation.

“We knew that at the local level Suffolk Folks, Sutton Hoo was a real source of pride, but it would be fair to say that none of us anticipated the amount of interest that would result from this story, ”says Howarth.

Although only locals practicing the permissible exercise of the lockdown can currently visit, they have noticed more people walking through the square, excited to see where Brown’s real-life works, eventually with a team of other archaeologists, over 80 years ago.

Both Brunning and Howarth would like to see this interest translate into visitor numbers when their sites eventually reopen, possibly later this year. But they also hope the wave of interest will spark curiosity about the period when the unknown king was buried in Sutton Hoo, in the early 7th century.

A mound is buried in Sutton Hoo in Suffolk.
A mound is buried in Sutton Hoo in Suffolk. Photo: Gary Weisser / The Guardian

“If you mention the Tudors, the Victorians, almost everyone knows what we’re talking about,” says Howarth. “But the Anglo-Saxons have always been something that we don’t really know where in the timeline is. Are they the same Vikings? Who are these?”

For Howard WilliamsA professor of archeology at the University of Chester, fictional images of archeology and shiny treasures can be of great significance in arousing realistic interest in the discipline, even if in many cases the imaginations are largely imprecise.

Students still reach his courses excited by the legendary King Arthur or inspired by reading The Lord of the Rings, he says, “And that’s still a positive thing, because we can use that to creatively take them on a journey into what we already know, which is often more interesting and exciting. .

Generations of students love Indiana Jones, [and] I’m not arrogant about that. I love that. You can work with her. “

Burning, who admits that “the Swords and Sandals movies” was the first thing that inspired her interest in the past, agrees. In her own case, it was a “thunderbolt moment” in her first encounter with the Sutton Hoo Treasure on a college visit to the museum that turned her into from the early Middle Ages, she says.

“I was completely electrified. I couldn’t believe that people were capable of this kind of technical art at a time I always thought of as the Dark Ages after the Romans were gone. And I just thought, ‘I should know more about this.'”

“It’s still hard to believe I’m actually taking care of him now.”

What did the Anglo-Saxons do for us?

The National Trust Gallery in Sutton Ho shows an Anglo-Saxon Shield.
The National Trust Gallery in Sutton Hoo shows an Anglo-Saxon shield. Photography: John Robertson / The Guardian


While modern English has been influenced and borrowed widely from Latin, Old French, and many other languages, its basis is the dialects spoken by the Germanic people who settled in England from the 5th century onwards. Many of the most common words in everyday use come directly from Old English, and it is possible to construct simple sentences in Anglo-Saxon English that are fundamentally unchanged today.

The English Nation

Initially formed in a group of separate (and often warring) kingdoms, the idea of ​​England was as a nation under Anglo-Saxon rule. Northumbria monk with my hands Ecclesiastical History of the English People It was completed in 731, but the kingdoms were not unified as a known English state until the 10th century.


Christianity first came to Britain under Roman rule, and the conquering Saxon kings and their kingdoms were pagan at first. But under the influence of Roman missionaries and Irish and Scottish monks, the Anglo-Saxons gradually converted to Christianity. Small Anglo-Saxon architecture still stands, however A number of churches before the conquest They are still standing, alluding to how they are worshiped.


The Anglo-Saxons left some of the richest and most dramatic poetry in the English language, from heroic fiction Beowulf For a mystical religious verse like Dream Rod To historical accounts such as Battle of Maldon, Which tells of the defeat of the Anglo-Saxons in Essex by the invasion of the Vikings in 991.

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