‘The Dig’ first look: Ralph Fiennes and Lily James star in 1930s archaeology drama

Netflix has released the first promotional photos for new period drama The Dig.

Starring Carey Mulligan (Suffragette), Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient), and Lily James (Downton Abbey), the movie is adapted from the 2007 novel by John Preston.

The Dig tells the story of the most famous archaeological dig in modern British history – the discovery of the Anglo-Saxon burial ship at Sutton Hoo, known as “Britain’s Tutankhamun.”

The film is set in England in 1939, as the Second World War approaches.

Carey Mulligan plays Edith Pretty, a widow who owns the land the burial mounds are on.

Ralph Fiennes plays amateur archaeologist Basil Brown, who is hired by Edith to excavate the site, while Lily James plays another archaeologist, Peggy Preston.

The cast also includes Johnny Flynn (Vanity Fair), Ben Chaplin (World Without End), Monica Dolan (Appropriate Adult), and Ken Stott (Rebus).

The official synopsis for Preston’s book reads: “In the long, hot summer of 1939, Britain is preparing for war, but on a riverside farm in Suffolk there is excitement of another kind. Mrs. Pretty, the widowed owner of the farm, has had her hunch confirmed that the mounds on her land hold buried treasure. As the dig proceeds, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary find.

“This fictional recreation of the famed Sutton Hoo dig follows three months of intense activity when locals fought outsiders, professionals thwarted amateurs, and love and rivalry flourished in equal measure. As the war looms ever closer, engraved gold peeks through the soil, and each character searches for answers in the buried treasure.

“Their threads of love, loss, and aspiration weave a common awareness of the past as something that can never truly be left behind.”

Lily James, best known as Lady Rose in Downton Abbey, is currently filming the BBC’s upcoming The Pursuit of Love mini-series.

She’s then set to star alongside singer Harry Styles in an adaptation of 1950s romance story My Policeman by Bethan Roberts.

The Dig will premiere exclusively on Netflix around the world in 2021.

John Preston’s novel The Dig is available on Amazon.