National Trust hopes Netflix's The Dig will boost visitors to Sutton Hoo

Carey Mulligan as Edith Pretty and Ralph Fiennes as Basil Brown in The Dig

Carey Mulligan as Edith Pretty and Ralph Fiennes as Basil Brown in The Dig - Credit: LARRY HORRICKS/NETFLIX

National Trust officials are preparing for an influx of visitors to Sutton Hoo after the success of the new Netflix film The Dig, which premiered on Friday night.

Nick Collinson, the Trust's regional manager for the Suffolk and Essex coasts, said the overwhelmingly positive response to the film suggested that visits to the site could be very popular once coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

And when it is able to fully reopen, the £4million investment over the last few years should really come into its own.

Nick Collinson at Sutton Hoo

National Trust manager Nick Collinson at Sutton Hoo. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Mr Collinson said: "It seems as if the reaction to the film has been overwhelmingly positive - and it used the Suffolk locations brilliantly to show off the whole area.

"With the developments we have seen here over recent years, we are ready if there is a great increase of interest in Sutton Hoo - with the new exhibition and Tranmer House telling the story of Mrs Pretty and Basil Brown."

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Last year, Sutton Hoo was partially open for visitors who had pre-booked in advance.

Mr Collinson said a booking system was likely to remain, but for most of the time there could be a "hybrid" system with booked visitors alongside those who just turned up on the spur of the moment.

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"We don't know how people will feel about going out or what the rules will be, but Sutton Hoo has a lot of space and there's now increased interest in it."

All the developments are now ready for use - including the new tower overlooking the burial mounds.

However, when that will open depends on what rules are being imposed for social distancing, because there are narrow staircases leading to the top.

Mr Collinson said many visitors - particularly if they were making a long journey to visit a property - welcomed the chance to book in advance, so they knew for certain when they could get into the exhibitions at a time when they were not too busy.

But while Sutton Hoo would inevitably be the main focus for many visitors, other sites in Suffolk should also benefit.

"The attractions of the local rivers and the villages that were filmed during the bike ride from Sutton Hoo to Basil's home at Rickinghall were wonderful and really showed off the attractions of Suffolk," said Mr Collinson.

"I am sure this will persuade a lot of people that Suffolk has a great deal to offer visitors and people who live here."

Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes with National Trust staff

The Dig's Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes with National Trust staff and volunteers on set. - Credit: LARRY HORRICKS/NETFLIX

While much of the location filming was carried out in Suffolk, the actual set of The Dig's excavations was set up in Surrey - but National Trust staff members and volunteers were invited there in 2019 to meet the stars on set.

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