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Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes heading for Suffolk to film Sutton Hoo movie

PUBLISHED: 08:34 07 September 2019 | UPDATED: 09:55 07 September 2019

Carey Mulligan, pictured attending the Fashion Awards at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London, will be appearing in the Sutton Hoo film  Picture: PA Archive/PA Images

Carey Mulligan, pictured attending the Fashion Awards at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London, will be appearing in the Sutton Hoo film Picture: PA Archive/PA Images

PA Archive/PA Images

Filming gets underway in Suffolk this month for the Hollywood blockbuster The Dig - a feature film for Netflix based on the world famous discovery of the Saxon burial ship found at Sutton Hoo.

Ipswich born Ralph Fiennes will take the lead male part of Basil Brown, the archaeologist who exacavated the site at Sutton Hoo. Picture: IMDbIpswich born Ralph Fiennes will take the lead male part of Basil Brown, the archaeologist who exacavated the site at Sutton Hoo. Picture: IMDb

Hollywood film stars Carey Mulligan and Ipswich-born Ralph Fiennes will begin filming on location in the county mid September with Australian director Simon Stone taking the helm to tell the tale of one of the most significant archaeological finds in British history.

Since the discovery of the ship burial in 1939, the story has unfolded with every dig made but was overlooked at the time due to the impending conflict of the Second World War.

Now, however, the story of King Raedwald's royal resting place in East Anglia will finally be heard and given the global attention it rightly deserves.

The East Anglian Daily Times was the first to break the story by journalist Alfred Bowden and in honour of our exclusive scoop, filmmakers have asked to use replica copies of our original report and newspaper in the film.

Carey Mulligan, seen here in Suffragette, will be playing the role of Edith Pretty in The Dig. Picture: IMDbCarey Mulligan, seen here in Suffragette, will be playing the role of Edith Pretty in The Dig. Picture: IMDb

The film will focus on the partnership between landowner Edith Pretty and archaeologist Basil Brown who first propelled the legendary excavation into existence and will be a tale of love, loss and hope.

The film has been in development for some time, with Nicole Kidman originally lined up to play Mrs Pretty - the role now understood to be taken by Carey Mulligan. With filming just weeks away the rumours have turned into reality and Suffolk's most famous find is being brought to the big screen.

Producing the film is Gabrielle Tana whose previous credits include Philomena, while Jane Eyre playwright and Harlots creator Moira Buffini will be overseeing the script.

Born to a father who worked as a farmer and photographer and his mother who was a writer, Ralph Fiennes has enjoyed an illustrious career in the film business with memorable performances in An English Patient and Schindler's List.

Excavation work taking place at the burial ship mound at Sutton Hoo in 1939. Picture: TRUSTEES OF THE BRITISH MUSEUMExcavation work taking place at the burial ship mound at Sutton Hoo in 1939. Picture: TRUSTEES OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM

British actress Carey Mulligan, star of Suffragette and The Great Gatsby, has previously been nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her performance in the coming of age drama An Education.

Promising to be a powerful, emotionally-charged story this is the first film of its kind that focuses on one of the most famous archaeological excavations in Britain in modern times.

What happened at Sutton Hoo

East Anglian Daily Times journalist Alfred East Anglian Daily Times journalist Alfred "Bow" Bowden broke the story back in 1939. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARIES

Sutton Hoo nestles alongside the River Deben opposite the harbour of the small town of Woodbridge.

It wasn't until 1939 that historians realised the area was built on a 7th century cemetery where King Raedwald, considered the most powerful of the English kings south of Yorkshire, had been entombed in the earth in his ship.

With buried treasure including the iconic helmet, shield and sword, the excavation site became a hub of activity as the one of greatest finds of Anglo-Saxon artefacts ever found in Britain was revealed.

Now in the care of the National Trust, the grounds have continued to arouse interest with archaeologists with further digs taking place in the 1960s and 1980s.

Providing a significant insight into how the Anglo-Saxon's lived and worked during these times, the site has gained a reputation as being one of the most important discoveries in modern history.

The story of Edith Pretty - where it all began

A full size sculpture of the burial ship outside the Sutton Hoo visitor centre Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNA full size sculpture of the burial ship outside the Sutton Hoo visitor centre Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Born in Yorkshire in 1883, Edith Pretty was the land owner who first recognised that something unusual may lay beneath her feet.

After marrying Frank Pretty from Ipswich, she bought Tranmer House and 526 acres of land on the Sutton Hoo estate in 1926 whilst serving as a magistrate in Woodbridge.

Already familiar with the world of archaeology through her father who had previously excavated a Cistercian abbey, Mrs Pretty became intrigued by the mounds on her estate.

One day at a flower fete in Woodbridge in 1937, she discussed the possibility of an excavation with member of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology, Vincent B. Redstone who subsequently invited self-taught archaeologist Basil Brown to participate in the dig.

In 1939 they revealed one of the greatest ancient burials ever to be found - a Saxon ship containing Anglo-Saxon treasures which a British Museum curator described as 'one of the most important archaeological discoveries of all time'. Mrs Pretty kindly donated all the findings to the London museum and in recognition of this, prime minister Winston Churchill offered her the honour of a CBE, which she declined.

Basil Brown - the digging man with a masterplan

Basil Brown is synonymus with Sutton Hoo, the famed archaeologist who excavated the mound to reveal the royal burial ship hidden in the earth.

Born in Bucklesham near Ipswich in 1888, Mr Brown's curiousity began at a young age studying astronomical texts inherited from his grandfather from the age of five.

Although he left school at 12 years old to work on his father's farm, Mr Brown enrolled himself in evening classes where he gained a certificate in drawing. He later went on to gain qualifications in astronomy, geography and geology before penning the book Astronomical Atlases, Maps and Charts: An Historical and General Guide which was published in 1932.

By the time Edith Pretty had decided to investigate the mounds on her estate, Mr Brown was working for Ipswich Museum who gave him two weeks to dig his way through the dirt to find one of the most important historical artefacts ever discovered.

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