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Why does Netflix’s The Dig exclude the women who photographed Sutton Hoo?

The filmmakers’ massaging of the facts tells us a lot about how middle-aged women are regarded by Hollywood

By Emma Hartley  
Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes in 'The Dig' Credit: Alamy

Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes in 'The Dig' Credit: Alamy

The Dig, starring Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan, has been one of the shared cultural experiences of lockdown: it has provided a golden-lit relief from early 2021’s Covid-infested wintry reality. Based on John Preston’s novel about his own family, this warm cinematic elegy to Suffolk tells the story of Basil Brown and Edith Pretty’s archaeological excavation at Sutton Hoo, which in 1938-39 uncovered an astonishing Anglo-Saxon hoard that now lives in the British Museum. 

The film celebrates self-taught archaeologist Brown, played by Fiennes, who in earlier narratives had been shoved aside by the Oxbridge cohorts who stampeded in…

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