Archaeologists baffled by ‘weird beast’ engravings as Sutton Hoo’s treasure traced | UK | News (Reports)

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Sutton Hoo: Expert speaks in 2009 about helmet discovery

The site, in Woodbridge, Suffolk, was at the centre of an incredible breakthrough in 1939 when an Anglo-Saxon burial was uncovered. Archaeologist Basil Brown found two early medieval cemeteries on the property of Edith Pretty that dated from the sixth to seventh centuries. One cemetery had an undisturbed ship burial with a wealth of treasure, including a ceremonial helmet now held at the British Museum.

And, as Netflix is poised to release its new film ‘The Dig,’ depicting the incredible excavation, curator of Early Medieval Europe Collections at the museum, Dr Sue Brunning, spoke to Express.co.uk.

She said: “The most famous artefact is the helmet and that is the piece that is seen on the front of textbooks.

“It is basically an extraordinary iron helmet that has a very iconic face on the front of it with a moustache and black eyes.

“But there is also loads of gold and garnet works, they used a very intricate technique that involves the inlaying of small red gemstones.

Sutton Hoo’s treasure continues to baffle experts (Image: GETTY)

“They are inlaid into these grid-like gold frames to create the glittering metalwork.”

But Dr Brunning said there was one artefact that has left experts scratching their heads since.

She added: “There is an extraordinarily large heavy gold buckle as well, which is covered with interlacing features of lots of strange beasts that we can’t identify.

“They are ambiguous creatures with long limbs, but also birds of prey that seem to have been popular during this time as well.

“Another assemblage inside the burial that is important is the number of silver vessels, a large platter, dishes, spoons and a ladle from the eastern Mediterranean.

READ MORE: Archaeologist ‘blown away’ by Netflix’s new Sutton Hoo film: ‘Like a time machine’

Mound in Woodbridge, Suffolk

An incredible discovery was made in Woodbridge, Suffolk (Image: GETTY)

“We know from the back of the large silver platter at the burial there is what we call a control stamp, which is like a modern hallmark.”

The archaeologist went on to reveal how the discoveries have helped trace back ancient England’s links.

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She said: “That tells us it was made in Constantinople, which is modern-day Istanbul.

“That silver made its way across to England, probably through a network of gift exchanges between rulers and people at the highest levels.

“The silver has probably made its way via that network over a long period of time. 

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Netflix trailer

Netflix will release its new film this month (Image: GETTY)

Ralph Fiennes

Ralph Fiennes plays the role of Basil Brown (Image: NETFLIX)

“It seems to have taken about 100 years from the point it was created to the point it arrived there.”

The new Netflix release is directed by Simon Stone and based on the 2007 novel of the same name by John Preston.

It will be available to stream on Netflix from Friday, January 29.

The cast is led by Carey Mulligan, an Oscar nominee who plays Mrs Pretty.

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Ralph Fiennes takes on the role of Mr Brown – a self-taught archaeologist who has to fight to continue work on excavating the ship he found.

In a previous interview with Express.co.uk, Dr Brunning said she believes Mr Fiennes is perfect for the role.

Archaeological discoveries in the UK

Archaeological discoveries in the UK (Image: GETTY)

She stated: “Basil Brown inspired me at university to study this particular period, he’s an important person in my mind and it was really nice to see Ralph Fiennes’ interpretation.

“He got pretty close to what Basil Brown was like in my mind – based on what I’ve seen in his writings, his voice, and his attitude.

“He really brought that to life. There is one particular moment where he goes and smokes his pipe during a break by the river.

“He sees a boat sailing past and there’s this moment where you can see that he is imagining the ship he has found would have sailed in that same water.

“It really nailed what Basil Brown would have been like. I think they did a lovely job.”

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