Institute of Archaeology


Digging deeper: The True History Behind Netflix’s ‘The Dig’

10 May 2021

UCL Institute of Archaeology staff, students and alumni will participate in a special event on 13 May exploring the real events of Sutton Hoo that inspired the BAFTA nominated film, 'The Dig'.

Image of the excavation in 1939, Mercie Lack, © Trustees of the British Museum

The panel discussion, organised by the UCL Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences (SHS), and chaired by the SHS Dean, Sasha Roseneil, will review the real events of Sutton Hoo that inspired the BAFTA nominated film.

The panel will also reflect on the remarkable response to the film by viewers, the balance between historical accuracy and dramatization, how archaeology is represented in the popular media and on TV, and how the team accessed British Museum archive material to recreate the burial.

Image: Image of the excavation in 1939, Mercie Lack, © Trustees of the British Museum 

Speakers include:

  • Sasha Roseneil is Dean of the UCL Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences, Pro Vice-Provost (Equity and Inclusion), and Professor of Interdisciplinary Social Science in the Institute of Advanced Studies.
  • Sue Brunning is Curator of the European Early Medieval Collections at the British Museum and is responsible for the finds from the Sutton Hoo ship burial. In 2019, Sue assisted the filmmakers of the Netflix film The Dig in their recreation of the iconic excavation. A UCL alumna, she gained her PhD from the Institute of Archaeology in 2013.
  • Mark Roberts is Principal Research Fellow and Fieldwork Tutor at UCL’s Institute of Archaeology. Mark first directed excavations at Boxgrove, the site of Britain's oldest human remains, in 1982 and directed the Boxgrove Project until 2004. He has been Fieldwork Tutor since 2009, running the IoAs summer field courses and research excavation programme.
  • Mercedes Baptiste Halliday is a second year Archaeology and Anthropology student at UCL, with a particular interest in African, South American and Caribbean Archaeologies. She also has a background in photography, film and arts organisation, and is hoping to further develop her interests in the filmic aspects of archaeology. 

Further details and booking link 

Sue Brunning was interviewed earlier in the year by National Geographic about why the Sutton Hoo ship burial was likely the last of its kind. The Institute's Professor of Medieval Archaeology, Andrew Reynolds, was also asked for his views in relation to the polarisation of wealth during this period and the transition to different burial traditions following the rise of Christianity. 

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