An intact 7th-century hull reveals the richest gold ship burial ever found in northern Europe.

Scratching at the dirt, thick under his fingernails, amateur archaeologist Basil Brown found a section of hard earth.

After further exploration, he found other rust-stained patches and iron nails and rivets scattered intermittently around the site.

For several weeks, after a delicate and painstaking operation, archaeologist Basil Brown watched the shape of a ship emerge from the ground in the Suffolk countryside.


He had discovered an 86-foot Anglo-Saxon ship filled with a rich cargo of treasure.

The discovery at Sutton Hoo in 1939 became one of Britain’s most important archaeological finds, known as Britain’s “Tutankhamen”, and to this day the cache is famous around the world.

More than 260 treasures were recovered in the ᴜɩ, including weapons, armor coins, jewelry, gold buckles, stamped plates, and silver cutlery.


The most prized find of all was a sculpted full-face helmet, leading archaeologists to conclude that the site was the final residence of a 7th-century king, probably Raedwald, a king of East Anglia.

The discovery of Sutton Hoo, the richest ship ever found in northern Europe, has been made into a film starring Lily James, Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan.


In 1939 the footprint of an 86ft Anglo-Saxon ship was found at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk. More than 260 treasures were also recovered from the refuge, including this helmet, leading to this important historical discovery being considered the “Tut” of Britain.


Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes star in the Netflix film as Edith Pretty and archaeologist Basil Brown, which follows the discovery of the Anglo-Saxon ship

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

The script follows the discovery of the Sutton Hoo treasures from the point of view of Preston’s aunt, Peggy Piggott, played by Lily James, an archaeologist who was hired to help excavate the ship.

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

In 1939, as tepsiops were increasing in Europe and Britain was on the brink of World War II, Edith Pretty became increasingly fascinated with the large grassy mounds in the grounds of her home.

The former nurse, who served in France during the First World War, had lived in an Edwardian house on the Sutton Hoo estate, near Woodbridge, on the River Deben estuary, since 1926.


The Anglo-Saxon ship was discovered in a field in Suffolk in the grounds of Edith Pretty’s Sutton Hoo estate


The Anglo-Saxon ship was discovered at the height of World War II, so archaeologists were in a good time to preserve the precious history.


Mrs Pretty hired self-taught archaeologist Basil Brown (left), played by Ralph Fiennes in the upcoming film (right), for £1.50 a day to investigate the earthen mounds on her property.

Unable to ignore his interest any longer, he went to the museum in the nearby Suffolk town of Ipswich in 1937, who sent excavation assistant Basil.

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

Basil kept diaries of the excavations at Sutton Hoo, and his records show that he first discovered human remains and some artefacts in several of the large mounds at Sutton Hoo.

But in the summer of 1939 he turned his attention to the largest mound of earth, known as Tumulus One.

It was there, on May 11, that he made the spectacular discovery.

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

For three months he excavated the 1,300-year-old ship, helped by the estate’s gamekeeper and gardener, hired by Mrs Pretty for £1.50 a day.


‘About noon, Jacobs (the gardener), who had by the way never seen a ship’s rivet before and who was for the first time engaged in excavation work, called to say that he had found a piece of iron, which was later discovered to be It was good. at the end of a ship,” Basil wrote in his diary.

“I immediately stopped work and carefully explored the area with a small trowel and discovered five rivets in position on what turned out to be the stern of a ship.”

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

Their work slowly outlined the outline of an 80-foot vessel: the wood decayed for a long time, but the shape remained clear on the ground.

Instead, his diaries record the discovery of “not wood itself, but ashes or black dust due to the decomposition of ship beams over many centuries.”

“A ship of this size must have belonged to a king or a person of great importance and is the find of a lifetime,” wrote the former farm worker, dairy farmer and lumberjack.

Experts from the British Museum intervened when news of the discovery broke, and Anglo-Saxon archeology expert Charles Phillips attempted to rule Basil out of the body.

He argued that Basil’s lack of training was inadequate for the importance of the find.

He was also concerned, with Britain in the crosshairs of war, that construction would not be completed and precious history preserved before the war began.


Along with the ghostly image of a ship, the archaeologist found treasure buried in the ground, including a gold belt buckle (pictured).


The ornate artefacts, including this decorated shoulder brooch, were of such historical importance that they led to the site being called “Britain’s Tutankhamen”.


The treasures are believed to have belonged to King Raedwald of East Anglia and were buried with him when he died, along with the ship that would take him to the afterlife.


The 263 objects in the hoard are now in the British Museum after Mrs Pretty donated the ᴜɩ to them.

But Mrs. Pretty abandoned Basil’s work and he continued the excavation in the face of protests. And as he dug, he found what was once the ship’s treasure chamber, hidden under a large iron ring.

When spectacular artifacts began to emerge from the mud, Basil was removed from the excavation as the experts took over, and was instead assigned to remove wheelbarrows of earth from the site.

Phillips brought in a new team of archaeologists, including Stuart Piggott and his young wife Peggy Preston, played by Johnny Flynn and Lily James in the upcoming drama.

The team created a set of 263 ornate treasures from the land in the Suffolk countryside.


Self-taught archaeologist Basil was removed from the job when experts from the British Museum intervened in the project. The Anglo-Saxon archeology expert Charles Phillips argued that Basil’s lack of training was inadequate for the importance of the find.


All of the artefacts were recovered from the earth and then reburied, this time hidden underground in disused tube tunnels in London during World War II.


Experts first thought the treasures were Viking, but upon closer inspection they realized they were Anglo-Saxon. The treasures rewrote the history of the Dark Ages in Europe


Some of the treasures date back to the Byzantine Empire, such as this ornamental silver plate, dating from the 6th century, which sheds light on the Anglo-Saxon trade networks with Europe.

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

Experts first thought the treasures were Viking, but upon closer inspection they realized they were Anglo-Saxon.

Some of the treasures dated back to the Byzantine Empire, while others had traveled to Suffolk from the East, such as some jewelery set with Sri Lankan garnets.


The treasures rewrote the history of the Dark Ages in Europe, and historians were able to delve into Anglo-Saxon trade networks with Europe like never before.

The only notable omission from the finds was the sign of any bodies lying next to them.

Experts suggest that the acidic soil could have dissolved the bones of the once-great warrior, but this theory has been questioned for decades as other bones had been found in other burial mounds at the site.

Either way, the discovery was made just in time. When it started, the army had to be adopted and the land was used as a tapk training ground.

The heavy machines crushed many of the historic mounds and damaged the intact outline of the ship.


The treasure inquiry at Sutton Town Hall decided that all the priceless riches rightfully belonged to Mrs Pretty.


After investigation, he donated all the treasures to the British Museum, making it the institution’s most significant donation from a single living individual.


The treasures are still on display at the British Museum in London to this day. But the ship’s outline was damaged when the land was used as a tapk training ground during World War II.

After a treasure investigation deemed all the priceless riches rightfully belonged to Mrs. Pretty, she donated all the artifacts to the British Museum, becoming the institution’s largest living donor.

The artefacts were of such historical importance that they were stored in London’s disused tube tunnels as the Blitz moved over the ground.

The treasures remained intact in the war and are still on display in the British Museum in London to this day.

Sue Brunning of the British Museum previously called the Sutton Hoo Ьᴜгіаɩ ship “one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time.”

The Day will be screened on Netflix starting January 29.

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