Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I reviewed the PBS series Miss Scarlet & the Duke. Heather reviewed the audio book of The Sandman by Neil Gaiman — I was surprised to hear that a work I know as a graphic novel series could be turned into an audio book, so I loved reading Heather’s description. Tina reviewed The Letter by Ruth Saberton, a novel set in Cornwall with a subplot from the World War I era.
In this odd time for film releases, The Dig was shown theatrically for all of two weeks before streaming on Netflix beginning on January 29. With the intellectual British story, it would have done well in art house cinemas. With stars like Carey Mulligan (Far From the Madding Crowd, Collateral), Ralph Fiennes, and Lily James (Downton Abbey, Cinderella, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society), it would have garnered some box office dollars in multiplexes.
Rick and I are getting to see some films more quickly after their release than we’re used to. We rarely go to the theater, since we have such a nice set up at home. In particular, Rick often hates the sound system at commercial theaters. We can manage a higher quality sound experience, without making it too loud, in our own living room.
We both enjoyed The Dig.
The Suffolk landscape suits the somber tone of the story, yielding its excitement only after hard work and some imagination. The Atlas of Wonders tracked down the filming locations, including a beautiful country house, Norney Grange, that manages to be both grand and homey. That article points out that Sutton Hoo is a National Trust site, open daily to the public (pre-COVID) and so likely wasn’t an appropriate site for filming, especially of a re-created dig. Instead, the dig was built in a field near Norney Grange.
The performances are superb, right down to Archie Barnes who plays the little boy and doesn’t yet have a Wikipedia article.
The historical plot, about the initial archaeological dig at Sutton Hoo, while World War II loomed, is fascinating.
In fact, I feel like I did after watching Ammonite. I enjoyed the film and, at least as much, I like that the film gave me the opportunity to explore some real history, well beyond what was portrayed in the story.
Someone needs to recruit Lily James to portray Peggy Piggott (known as Margaret Guido for most of her professional life) in a bio-pic. Her expertise was minimized and her romantic adventures were entirely fictionalized for this film.
Margaret Guido’s real life is a great story. She was a preeminent archeologist for pre-historical sites in Great Britain, at a time when women had a hard time being archeologists, much less preeminent ones. I’m particularly enamored by her work with glass beads. When she got older, she moved away from site-specific work and, instead, focused on glass beads across the British Isles. She published a volume about beads in prehistory and Roman times and a second book about Anglo Saxon beads. Her career spanned six decades!
Have you seen this film? What did you think? Did you explore other aspects of the history? I explored more about Sutton Hoo through Wikipedia, the National Trust site, and the British Museum, but I didn’t want to share too much here, for fear of spoiling the plot of the movie.