ENTERTAINMENT

The true story of the treasure ship Suton Hoo


The amateur archaeologist Basil Brown scratched the dirt, the earth under his fingernails, and came across a patch of hard earth.

After further excavations, he found other areas stained with rust and iron nails and rivets that were temporarily scattered around the construction site.

For several weeks the archologist Basil Brown saw the shape of a ship emerge from the ground in the Suffolk field after a delicate and careful operation.

He had discovered an 86-foot Anglo-Saxon grave-ship filled with a rich load of teasures.

The discovery at Sutton Hoo in 1939 became one of the most important archaeological finds in Great Britain, known as the "Tutankhamun" of Great Britain. To date, the cache is known all over the world.

More than 260 treasures were found on the transport, including weapons, armor coins, jewelry, gold buckles, patterned plaques and silver cutlery.

The most valuable find of all was a molded full-face helmet. Leading archologists have concluded that the site was the final resting place of a 7th century king, likely Raedwald, a king of East Anglia.

The discovery at Sutton Hoo, the richest ship burial ever found in Northern Europe, has been turned into a film starring Lily James, Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan.

In 1939, the imprint of an 86-foot Anglo-Saxon ship was found at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk. More than 260 treasures were also found on the transport, including this helmet. This led to the important historical discovery hailed as Britain's "Tutankhamun".

Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes star in the Netflix movie as Edith Pretty and archologist Basil Brown, who follow the discovery of the Anglo-Saxon ship

Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes star in the Netflix movie as Edith Pretty and archologist Basil Brown, who follow the discovery of the Anglo-Saxon ship

The film, released in January, is based on a historical novel by John Preston.

The script follows the discovery of Sutton Hoo's treasure through the eyes of Preston's aunt Peggy Piggott, played by Lily James, an archaeologist bought to help excavate the ship.

But the real story behind the Sutton Hoo archaeological dig is as intriguing as it is fiction.

In 1939, as tensions increased in Europe and Britain was on the verge of World War II, Edith Pretty became increasingly fascinated by the large grassy hills in the grounds of her home.

The former nurse who served in France during World War I had lived in an Edwardian house on the Sutton Hoo estate near Woodbridge at the mouth of the River Deben since 1926.

The Anglo-Saxon ship was spotted by Edith Pretty in a Suffolk field on the Sutton Hoo estate

The Anglo-Saxon ship was spotted by Edith Pretty in a Suffolk field on the Sutton Hoo estate

The Anglo-Saxon boat was discovered on the threshold of World War II, so archologists were in a race against time to preserve the precious history

The Anglo-Saxon boat was discovered on the threshold of World War II, so archologists were in a race against time to preserve the precious history

Amateur archaeologist Basil Brown

He will be played by Ralph Fiennes in the upcoming Netflix movie

Ms. Pretty hired self-taught archologist Basil Brown (left), played by Ralph Fiennes in the upcoming film (right), for £ 1.50 a day to examine unusual mounds of earth on her property

Who was Raedwald: The 7th century King of East Anglia

Historians believe that the magnificent helmet could have been buried with the former king of East Anglia, Raedwald

Historians believe that the magnificent helmet could have been buried with the former king of East Anglia, Raedwald

The treasure hunt discovered at Sutton Hoo was the richest ship burial site ever found in Britain.

In historical times warriors and leaders would have been buried with their ship, as it was supposed to carry them and their wealth to the afterlife.

Since the remains of a body have never been found in Sutton Hoo, it is impossible to know who owned the tomb.

But historians say they believe it is the final resting place of a king named Raedwald.

The Anglo-Saxon had been King of East Anglia from around 599 until his death in 625.

Raedwald was descended from the first king of the angles, the Wuffingas, who claimed to be descended from the god Woden.

The royal dynasty ruled Anglia, consisting of Suffolk and Norfolk, for many generations.

Raedwald was revered for his victory over the Kingdom of Northumbria, an accomplishment that made him one of the most powerful leaders south of the River Humber at the time.

But he was also criticized for the worship of both Christianity and traditional Anglo-Saxon religions.

When he died, he was succeeded by his pagan son Eorpwald.

Raedwald was reportedly buried in Sutton Hoo. His grave was barely looted decades later when grave robbers targeted the site.

But the Sutton Hoo archaeological dig found that the thieves had missed the profile of a coupleMeter.

She could no longer ignore her interest and in 1937 turned to the museum in the nearby town of Ipswich, Suffolk, which sent excavation assistant Basil.

The self-taught archologists left school at the age of 12, but had a thirst for knowledge and a lifelong passion for historical artifacts. He was also an avid linguist.

Basil kept diaries of the Sutton Hoo excavation, and his records show that he first discovered human remains and some artifacts in a number of burial mounds in Sutton Hoo.

In the summer of 1939, however, he turned to the largest mound of earth known as Tumulus One.

There he made the spectacular discovery on May 11th.

He later described it in a letter to his wife as the "find of his life".

Within three months, he excavated the 1,3,000-year-old ship, assisted by the property's gamekeeper and gardener, and hired by Mrs. Pretty for £ 1.50 a day.

Around noon Jacobs (the gardener), who, incidentally, had never seen a ship's rivet before and was engaged in excavation work for the first time, called out that he had found a piece of iron and then turned out to be loose at the end of a ship, "wrote Basil in his diary.

"I immediately stopped work and carefully scouted the area with a small trowel and uncovered five rivets that were on the trunk of a ship."

At one point he narrowly escaped burying under 10 tons of sand as he dug deeper and deeper.

His work slowly revealed the outline of an 80-foot vessel – the wood decayed for a long time, but the shape remained clear in the ground.

Instead, it is stated in his diaries that "there is no wood, but ash or black dust from the decomposition of the wood of ships over the centuries".

"A ship of this size must have been that of a king or a person of great importance and it is the find of his life," wrote the former farm worker, milkman and lumberjack.

Experts from the British Museum stepped in when news of the find became known, and Anglo-Saxon archeology expert Charles Phillips attempted to release Basil from the excavation.

He argued that Basil's lack of training was unsuitable for the significance of the find.

With Britain on the brink of war, he was also concerned that the excavation would not be completed and that the precious story would not be preserved until the war broke out.

Together with the ghostly image of a ship, the archaeologist found a treasure buried in the ground, including a golden belt buckle (image)

Together with the ghostly image of a ship, the archaeologist found a treasure buried in the ground, including a golden belt buckle (image)

The ornate artifacts, including this ornate shoulder clasp, were of such historical importance that the site was hailed as "Britain's Tutankhamun".

The ornate artifacts, including this ornate shoulder clasp, were of such historical importance that the site was hailed as "Britain's Tutankhamun".

The treasures are believed to belong to King Raedwald of East Anglia and were buried with him when he died, along with the ship that was supposed to carry him to the afterlife

The treasures are believed to belong to King Raedwald of East Anglia and were buried with him when he died, along with the ship that was supposed to carry him to the afterlife

The 263 treasures are now in the British Museum after Mrs Pretty donated their transport

The 263 treasures are now in the British Museum after Mrs Pretty donated their transport

But Mrs. Pretty fought against Basilius Corner and continued the excavation despite protest. And when he was digging, he found the boat's former treasury, hidden under a large iron ring.

When the spectacular artifacts emerged from the mud, Basil was removed from the excavation when the experts took it over and instead tasked with removing wheelbarrows from the site.

A new team of archaeologists has been put together by Phillips, including Stuart Piggott and his young wife Peggy Preston – played by Johnny Flynn and Lily James in the upcoming drama.

The team unearthed 263 ornate treasures in the Suffolk field.

The self-taught archologist Basil was removed from the excavation when experts from the British Museum intervened on the project. The Anglo-Saxon archeology expert Charles Phillips argued that Basil's lack of training was unsuitable for the significance of the find

The self-taught archologist Basil was removed from the excavation when experts from the British Museum intervened on the project. The Anglo-Saxon archeology expert Charles Phillips argued that Basil's lack of training was unsuitable for the significance of the find

The artifacts were all recovered from the earth and then buried again - this time hidden in disused tube tunnels in London during World War II

The artifacts were all recovered from the earth and then buried again – this time hidden in disused tube tunnels in London during World War II

Experts at first thought the treasures were Vikings, but upon closer inspection discovered that they were Anglo-Saxon. The treasures have rewritten the history of the Middle Ages in Europe

Experts at first thought the treasures were Vikings, but upon closer inspection discovered that they were Anglo-Saxon. The treasures have rewritten the history of the Middle Ages in Europe

Some of the treasures come from the Byzantine Empire, such as this decorative silver plate from the 6th century that illuminates the Anglo-Saxons' trade networks with Europe

Some of the treasures come from the Byzantine Empire, such as this decorative silver plate from the 6th century that illuminates the Anglo-Saxons' trade networks with Europe

These included a double-edged sword – a prestigious weapon only available to high-ranking warriors – a gold shield, and an ornate belt buckle that displayed the best of early medieval craftsmanship.

Experts at first thought the treasures were Vikings, but upon closer inspection discovered that they were Anglo-Saxon.

Some of the treasures were from the Byzantine Empire while others had traveled to Suffolk from the east, such as some Jewelry set with grenades from Sri Lanka.

The treasures Medieval history in Europe was being rewritten, and historians were able to delve into Anglo-Saxon trade networks with Europe like never before.

The only notable omission in the finds was the mark of a body buried next to them.

Experts suspect the acidic soil could have dissolved the once great warrior's bones, but this theory has been contested over the decades as other bones had been found in the other tumulus on the site.

In any case, the discovery was made just in time. When the war broke out, the excavation had to be abandoned and the area was used by the army as a tank training area.

The heavy machinery flattened many of the historic hills and caused damage to the intact shape of the ship.

The treasure hunt at Sutton Town Hall revealed that all of the priceless riches rightly belonged to Mrs. Pretty

The treasure hunt at Sutton Town Hall revealed that all of the priceless riches rightly belonged to Mrs. Pretty

After the investigation, she donated all of the treasures to the British Museum - the institution's most important donation from a single living person

After the investigation, she donated all of the treasures to the British Museum – the institution's most important donation from a single living person

The treasures are exhibited in the British Museum in London to this day. However, the boat's outline was damaged when the land was used as a tank training area during World War II

The treasures are exhibited in the British Museum in London to this day. However, the boat's outline was damaged when the land was used as a tank training area during World War II

After a treasure survey found all the priceless riches rightly belonged to Ms. Pretty, she donated all of the artifacts to the British Museum, making it the institution's most significant living donor.

The artifacts were of such great historical importance that they were kept in London's disused tube tunnels while lightning raged over the earth.

The treasures tactfully survived the war and are still on display in the British Museum in London.

Sue Brunning of the British Museum previously described the Sutton Hoo ship burial as "one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time".

The Dig will appear on Netflix from January 29th.

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