Basil Brown and “The Dig”

Belt Buckle, Sutton Hoo, early 7th century, gold, 13.2 x 5.6 cm © Trustees of the British Museum.

This gold belt buckle is one of the greatest achievements of Anglo-Saxon metalwork. Constructed from several separate pieces, its body forms a hinged box with an ingenious triple-lock mechanism. The intricate decoration comprises a web of 13 snakes, predatory birds and long-limbed beasts.


Basil Brown – the Invisible Archaeologist

Before we start – excuses

In 2007 Mrs John and I visited Sutton Hoo and viewed the huge ship grave and the National Trust exhibition of priceless royal treasures with a sense of awe and wonder. AWESOME! It is over eighty years ago since this seventh-century Anglo-Saxon burial ground and royal grave was unearthed in a Suffolk field, and it still has an inescapable fascination. In the same year I purchased Preston’s book and have read it many times. I also penned a review at the time and this blog revisits that time in my life.

My review centred on Basil Brown, the hero of the story. The appellation ‘Invisible Archaeologist’ is only one of many. He was also referred to as the ‘Local Excavator’, the ‘Suffolk Heritage Explorer’ and many more. The way he was treated by the ‘proper’ archaeologists will resonate with detectorists everywhere. He probably knew more than they did!

This has been one of the most difficult blogs I have ever done. Doing research and then losing it all; intense pain after a fall; depression, and a sense of worthlessness were just some of the ingredients in the mix. My intention was to post on the same day as the Netflix film was released. It was not to be.

Streaming on Netflix from 29th January – a film of the book.
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