The Dig (2021) – Transcript

As WWII looms, a wealthy widow (Carey Mulligan) hires an amateur archaeologist (Ralph Fiennes) to excavate the burial mounds on her estate. When they make a historic discovery, the echoes of Britain's past resonate in the face of its uncertain future‎.
The Dig (2021)

In 1939, Suffolk landowner Edith Pretty hires local archaeologist Basil Brown to excavate the large burial mounds at her rural estate in Sutton Hoo, paying him £2 a week (approximately £120 in 2020). Ipswich Museum officials try to persuade Brown to work on a Roman villa they deem more important, but he declines. They ignore the self-taught Brown when he suggests the mounds could be Anglo-Saxon rather than the more common Viking.

Working with a few assistants from the estate, Brown slowly excavates the more promising of the mounds. One day the dirt collapses on him, but he is dug out in time and revived. Meanwhile, he spends more time with Edith, a widow, and her young son, Robert, and ignores daily letters from his wife, May. Edith struggles with health issues and is warned by her doctor to avoid stress.

Brown is astonished to uncover iron rivets from a ship, which could only make it the burial site of someone of tremendous distinction, such as a king. Prominent local archaeologist James Reid Moir attempts to join the dig but is rebuffed; Edith instead hires her cousin Rory Lomax to join the project. However, news of the discovery soon spreads, and Cambridge archaeologist Charles Phillips arrives, declares the site to be of national importance, and takes over the dig by order of the Office of Works.

As war approaches, Philips brings in a large team, including Peggy Piggott, who uncovers the first distinctly Anglo-Saxon artifact. Brown is retained only to keep the site in order, but Edith intervenes and he resumes digging. Brown discovers a Merovingian tremissis and Philips declares the site to be of major historical significance. Philips wants to send all the items to the British Museum, but Edith, concerned about the war raids in London, asserts her rights. An inquest confirms she is the owner of the ship and its priceless treasure trove of grave goods, but she despairs as her health continues to decline.

Peggy — who is badly neglected by her husband, Stuart — begins a romance with Rory, but he is soon called up by the Royal Air Force. Edith decides to donate the Sutton Hoo treasure to the British Museum but requests that Brown be given recognition for his work. She dies in 1942.

A note states that the treasure was hidden in the London Underground during the war and was first exhibited — without any mention of Basil Brown — nine years after Edith’s death. Only recently was Brown given full credit for his contribution and his name is now displayed permanently alongside Edith Pretty’s at the British Museum.



[somber piano theme playing]

[water flowing]

[birds singing]

[seagulls crying]

Well, I expect it’ll cloud over later on.

[ferryman] Aye.

What’s going on at Sutton Hoo, then?

[man] There’s a lady who’s got an excavating job.

Ah, thank you kindly. Mind how you go.

Thank you.

[birds calling]

[music swells]


[exhales deeply]

[doorbell clicks, rings]

Mornin’. Mrs. Pretty, please.

Basil Brown.

Wait here.

[piano theme fades]

Should we take a look at them, then?

[Brown] Right.

Things like this are usually done through museums.

[Pretty] Yes. But when I approached Ipswich, Mr. Reid Moir said that, with the war coming,

they couldn’t embark upon any new ventures.

[Brown] Well, they have their hands full with a Roman villa.

Yes. He said you were working on it.

[Brown] I am.

He told me you were a difficult man.

[chuckles] Did he, now?

Unorthodox… and untrained.

[Brown] Hmm. So that’s his reference, is it?

[chuckles] Well, I’m… I’m not untrained.

I’ve been on dig since I was old enough to hold a trowel.

[sighs] My father taught me.

Perhaps Reid Moir just wants to keep you for himself.

[Brown] I don’t know about that.

[both chuckle]

[Brown] I’ve always had a curiosity to see these here mounds.

Henry VIII came here to dig.

[Pretty] So I’m told.

[Brown] Well, no record of what he found.

[Pretty] My husband and I bought this land, with the hope of exploring what was under there.

But… Well, best-laid plans.

[Brown chuckles]

[Pretty] What are they? Would you hazard a guess?

[Brown] Burial mounds, I expect.

We’re standing in someone’s graveyard, I reckon.


or maybe older.

Apparently, local girls used to lie down on them in the hope of falling pregnant.

[Brown chuckles]

I’ve heard plenty of legends.

Is that why you want to dig, Mrs. Pretty?

Tales of buried treasure?

My interest in archaeology began like yours, when I was scarcely old enough to hold a trowel.

My childhood home was built on a Cistercian convent.

I helped my father excavate the apse.

That speaks, don’t it?

The past.

You have rabbits, Mrs. Pretty.

Yes, I am aware of that. [chuckles]

[Brown] Rabbits burrow.

They’re bad for excavations.

I’d like to start with this one.

[Brown] Ah, I wouldn’t start with this one, Mrs. Pretty, not personally speaking.

[Pretty] Why not?

‘Cause that dips in the middle, see?

And the soil feels– That’s compacted.

Thieves used to sink shafts in.

Robber’s flutes, they’re called.

Anything they found would’ve been melted down and sold long ago.

I expect you might be better off with… one of these.

But I have a feeling about this one.

[Brown] Well, that’s your money, Mrs. Pretty, but I’d base your dig on evidence, not feeling.

[Pretty] As for money, would 1 pound, 15 shillings, and 6 pence a week be acceptable?



[Pretty] I asked Reid Moir what he pays.

That was his reply.

Well, he don’t pay enough.

[footsteps approach]

[Pretty] All right.

I’m afraid that’s all I can reasonably afford to spend.

[boy shouting]

[Brown] Right, then. Understood.

Robert, where did you get that gas mask? Take it off.

Sorry, I didn’t realize you were–

This is not a toy.

Robert, this is Mr. Brown.

Hello there, young man.

[Robert] Robert Pretty. How do you do?

Who’s coming after you?

Captain Laska and his gangsters.

[Brown] Oh!

[Pretty] Mr. Brown is an archaeologist.

Well, I’m an excavator.

You’ve come to dig up the mounds?

[Brown] Well…

I’m afraid not. Uh, not today.

Excuse me.

[Robert sighs]

Good luck with your gangsters, Robert.

[Robert chuckles] Thank you.

[Brown] And you, with your dig, ma’am.

[wind whistling]

[birds calling]

[Brown sighs]

Ah, blast.

[car approaching]

[brakes squeak]

Mr. Brown?


Billy Lyons. Uh, uh, from Mrs. Pretty.

All right.


[sighs, clicks tongue]

[bright orchestral music playing]

Tell her Monday, 8:00 sharp.

[Brown] I won’t work for less than two pound a week.

And it’s too far to bike, if you want a day’s digging.

[Pretty] You could lodge with the Lyonses in the coach house.

Mr. Lyons is my chauffeur, and Mrs. Lyons is in charge of the kitchen.

[Brown sighs] Well, I’ll need help.

[Pretty] I could let you have one man.

[Brown] Two would be better.

[Pretty] I’m glad we could come to an arrangement after all, Mr. Brown.

John Jacobs and Mr. Spooner are bringing the shepherd’s hut.

I thought it might be useful in case of inclement weather.

Oh, that’s very considerate.

My son Robert is keen to assist you in any way.

If you find his presence irksome–

Oh, no, no, no. He can come.

You’ll start with this one?

[Brown] Yeah.

I reckon we can forget that larger mound, Mrs. Pretty.

This one here, that’s where we’ll find something.

Well, shan’t hold you up. [chuckles softly]

[Brown] Thank you kindly.

If you ask me, the man should leave Mrs. Pretty’s mounds well alone.

[Brown grunts]


[seagulls crying]

[maid] Thank you, ma’am.

[Pretty] Great, dear. Thank you.

Darling, please be gentle. You’ll knock me down.

[Robert] I’m sorry. Mr. Brown says to come.


[Robert] Yes.

Well, thank you for the message.

Well, it looks like the kind of tray you get at a butcher’s.

And there’s some blackness here, maybe indicating a fire was made.

Who are those men?

[Pretty] They’re from the Ipswich Museum. Mr. Reid Moir telephoned me.

He wanted to see how things were progressing, so I invited him.

Mrs. Pretty, this is Guy Maynard, our new curator.

How do you do?

[Pretty] Hello.

Hello, Brown.

Maynard. Can I borrow you, please, for this here corner?

Jolly good.

[Brown] One.

You have it? Two.

[Maynard] Yeah.

[Brown] Three! Blast.

[Maynard grunts]

Is that the sum of your labors?

[Brown] Excuse me.

[tool clatters]

[somber orchestral music playing]

[indistinct chatter]

[Reid Moir] I must urge you, Mrs. Pretty, to support our Roman villa.

War is looming.

All hands are on deck to excavate before hostilities begin.

And so, we must ask you to return Mr. Brown.

I’d like him to finish what he’s started.

[Reid Moir chuckles] We may have found the largest Roman villa

north of Felixstowe.

It’s of far greater import, if… if you’ll forgive me, than this… minor venture.

Then the choice is Mr. Brown’s.

Excuse me.

Time had altered that piece of wood to compacted sand.

I didn’t guess its age correctly.

I speculated Viking, but I think that’s older.


That’s most unlikely, Brown.

We should– We need you back at the villa. That’s what I’m here to say, and… and Mrs. Pretty has released you.

I have said it is your choice.

Well, then I’ll stay.

Thank you kindly, ma’am.

Excuse me.

Now, look here, Brown.

You’ve made your point. You can have two pounds a week.

We’ll give you a few days to finish off here, and then, as we’re the only museum in the area, I’d carefully consider where your future lies.


[Robert] Mr. Brown’s been telling us all sorts of things.

For instance, what’s the most important part of an archaeologist’s body?

I don’t know.

[clock chiming]

His nose.

If there’s something there, he’ll know it by the smell.

You’re going to see your father this afternoon?

I… I’m afraid I’m needed here.

Um, please, may I get down?

If you’re quite sure you’ve finished.

[sighs deeply]

[somber piano music playing]

[takes a deep breath]

[indistinct chatter]

[soldiers clamoring, muffled]

[Pretty sighs]

[breathing heavily]

[man] Boiled beef…

on a hot day like this is unlikely to agree with anyone, Mrs. Lyons.

[Pretty] It was exactly like last time.

[doctor] Mrs. Pretty, you produce all this acid because you’re a worrier.

We’ve spoken on this subject before.

You must learn to stop worrying.


[doctor] Otherwise, you’ll give yourself an ulcer.

Well… if that’s what you think.

[doctor] Mm-hmm.

[clock ticking]

[gentle piano music playing]

[grass rustling]

[insects chirping]

Oh, you don’t wanna be down there, Mrs. Pretty. That ain’t safe.

Spooner and John Jacobs are making supports.

We can’t continue without them now.

I was reading Howard Carter’s account of his excavation of the tomb of Tutankhamun.

[Brown] Oh?

He stood at the threshold of the burial chamber, the first man to do so for 3,000 years, and he saw finger marks still on the paint.

He say, “Time lost its meaning.”

It occurs to me that you might unearth human remains.

[Brown] Yeah, that’s possible.

[Pretty] We’re digging down to meet the dead.

Disinterring them, in fact.

[Brown] There’s always coroner’s inquests when remains are found.

The dead still get that courtesy, no matter how many centuries they’ve lain.

We can’t dig down into the earth without considering that–


[soil rustles]

[sound muffles]

[Pretty, muffled] Brown?

[soil shifting]

[Pretty gasps]

Mr. Brown?

Spooner! Jacob! Get help!

[sound fades]

[tense orchestral music playing]

[orchestral music swells]

[man] There! There! There!

Come on, Basil!

[group clamoring indistinctly]

[Pretty cries out indistinctly]

[Pretty] Careful with his head.

[group grunting]

[tense orchestral music continues playing]

[Pretty] Mr. Brown! Mr. Brown!

Mr. Brown!

Mr. Brown?


[Pretty] That’s it.

[Jacobs] That’s it.

[Brown gasps]

Mr. Brown. Mr. Brown.


[Pretty breathing shakily]

You’re all right now. You’re all right. You’re all right.

[sighs, chuckles] You’re all right.

Into the library, Grateley. Lay him on the sofa.

[somber piano music playing]

[sighs tremulously]

[Pretty] Did you see something?

[Brown] See something?

When you were gone.


Something did come into my head.

What was it?

[clicks tongue] My, uh… my grandfather.

I have his name.

Basil Brown.

Farming man.

Taught me everything I know about Suffolk soil.

And you saw him?

[Brown] Oh, I saw nothing at all. I was just…

I just thought of him. [sighs]

Well… perhaps he saw you. [chuckles softly]

Excuse me.

Mr. Brown, are you all right?

[Pretty] Mr. Brown!

Mr. Brown, you have to rest!

See, Mrs. Pretty… this one is the one you like.

It’s the one you wanted me to start on. It’s oval.

Like a hog’s back.

[both panting]

See? All the others, circular.


Now, this land’s been plowed for 1,000 year.

Now, supposing whoever plowed here… gradually knocked a bit off.

So, by the time robbers come along, they’d have sunk the flute into what they thought was the center.

[Pretty] But it might not have been.

[Brown] That’s right.

East to west, that’s my feeling.

[chuckles] You say the word…


…and I’ll dig.

[Pretty chuckles]

[energetic instrumental music playing]

[Robert] My plane crashed into the Arctic waste, you see.

And when I woke up, 500 years had passed.

So, now I’m stuck in the 25th century.

[Brown] What’s that like, then?

Well, the Earth is controlled by Killer Kane, who’s an extremely evil man.

[Brown] Like Hitler?

[chuckles] Yes, with an even worse mustache.

Did the people

who made these burial mounds have mustaches?

[Brown] And beards.

They were a very beardy lot.

Not like them there Romans. Now, they liked the close shave.

The Vikings and the space pilots are the same, really, aren’t they?

They explore new lands and have battles in ships.

Yeah, when you put it like that, I suppose they might be the same.

[warplanes roaring]

[Robert] They come over all the time. There’s an RAF base nearby.

[imitates weaponry firing]

Would you like to fly, Mr. Brown?

[Brown] Oh, but I do.

All over the cosmos, every time I look through my telescope.

You… You have a telescope?

I do.

[Robert] Did you bring it with you?

[Brown] I did.

Well, will you show me?

I might.

[Robert chuckles softly]

[imitates weaponry firing]

Cor! He likes to natter, he does.

What was all that about space travel?

[Robert panting]

[maid] Mr. Brown had an awful lot of books.

Came on his bike with a great parcel of them.

Sloan says some are in Norwegian.

Shall we try the green silk?

It’s an old favorite, isn’t it?

[Pretty] No.

The velvet with the lace.

[birds singing outside]

[clock chiming]

[footsteps approach]

[Grateley] Mrs. Lyons hopes it will agree.

[Pretty] How’s your leg, Mr. Grateley?

Oh, much better, ma’am. Thank you for inquiring.

Would you like the wireless?

[Pretty] Yes, please.

[clicks on]

[radio announcer] …the Air Guard under the age of 32 are now being asked to stand by for further training as RAF pilots or crew.

[Mrs. Lyons] She’s only been here 12 year.

[Billy] Mm-hmm.

Came down from Cheshire.

Then she married the colonel.

He first met with Edith when she was still at school.

And on his 17th birthday, he asked her to marry him.

She turned him down.

[Billy] Mm.

She say she can’t possibly leave her father.

[Billy grunts softly]

[Mrs. Lyons] She cared for her father another 13 year, until he died.

[Billy] After 13 years.

[Mrs. Lyons] She finally accepted the colonel’s proposal.

He been asking every year on her birthday.

[Billy] On her birthday.

[Mrs. Lyons] Just after they had Robert… her husband went and died too.

[Billy] Mm-hmm.

[Pretty kisses]

[Mrs. Lyons] Imagine that.

[men laughing]

[chattering indistinctly]

[Brown] Do any of you want to look through this?

[man] I thought we’d sit down on that.

[Brown] You have a go.

That’s right.

[Jacobs] I’m gonna follow you back home.

[group laughing]

[Brown] Wait! Wait, for Christ’s sake!

[seagulls crying]


[Brown] Come on.


[church bell ringing]

[ship horn blows]

[seagulls crying]

[bicycle bell rings]

[brakes squeak]

[Brown panting]

[Brown] Maynard! Maynard!

They found an iron rivet at the burial mound at Snape, didn’t they?

[Maynard] Snape? Basil, what have you found?

My goodness, Basil.

[Spooner] Right. Any joy, Basil?

[Brown] Coming along together.

Mr. Spooner, will you bring my tape measure from the hut?

One of you best get Mrs. Pretty down here.

[Jacobs] She’s gone up to London.

She what? How long?

[Jacobs] London, with Robert. Couple of days.

[sighs] Blast.

Right, boys. Here we go. Come on together.

Better have something to show Mrs. Pretty when she get back.

[knocking on door]

[Grateley] And the crystal glasses!

No, no, no. Side door, please.

Mrs. Pretty back from London yet?

Mrs. Pretty’s about to dine.

[Brown] I told you it was urgent.

[Grateley] Mr. Brown, I’m sure you wouldn’t like to interfere with–

[Pretty] It’s all right, Mr. Grateley.

Is it Mr. Brown?

[Pretty] Yes, darling. Darling

I think you’d better come and see.

[soaring orchestral music playing]

[Brown] That’s a ship.

[Robert] How do you mean, a ship?

[Brown] Oh, well, that’s a ship that’s been buried in the mound.

[Robert] Why would anyone want to bury a ship?

[Brown] Well, I expect because that’s a grave.

[Robert] Whose grave?

[Brown] Well, I’d expect this is a grave of a… a great man.

A warrior… or a king.

They must have pulled his ship all the way up that there hill from the river.

Now, they’d have put it on ropes, and they’d have hauled it over logs.

Men, horses. It must have taken hundreds of ’em. [chuckles]

I don’t expect them to go to all this trouble for any little squirt.

Can you imagine the send-off they’d be giving him?

The songs they’d be singing. [laughs]

They’d have drunk Mr. Spooner under the table.

[Brown and Pretty laugh]

[Robert] Vikings?

[sniffles] Well, I… I think that’s older.

Maynard disagrees, but I think it’s Anglo-Saxon.

Now, this is your doing, John Jacobs, ’cause you found the first rivet.

[Jacobs chuckles]

That’s right, Mrs. Pretty. He did.

Congratulations, Mr. Brown.

[Brown chuckles] Well, you thought there was something, didn’t you?

I had my feeling.

That you did, Mrs. Pretty. That you did.

[Pretty] Oh, John.

Congratulations, Mr. Spooner.

[Spooner] Thank you, ma’am.

[Brown] We couldn’t have done it without this young man here.

[kisses] Psst.

[softly] Robert, a ship!


[Robert] Thank you. Mr. Brown.

[Brown] Well, there’s a lot of earth to… to shift now.

But who knows?

I’m pretty sure it continues further.

[music and sound fade]

[wind blows softly]

[hatch squeaks]

[man] Evening.


[birds singing]

[Reid Moir] Do you realize what this means?

It’s going to change everything for Ipswich.

We’ll be the envy of every museum in the country.

You’re gonna get wet, Mrs. Pretty.

[Pretty] I’m afraid I already am.

[Brown grunts]

[Pretty] Mr. Reid Moir has kindly offered to take charge of the dig.

I turned his generous offer down.

You didn’t.

[Pretty] I did.

[chuckles, splutters] What did he say?

He said I couldn’t keep it to myself, which is true.

[chuckling] I bet he blew his gasket.

In the meantime, I’ve asked my cousin, Rory Lomax, to come.

[Brown] Right.

I can see you need another pair of hands.

He’s only an amateur, but then, so is Mr. Reid Moir.

[both chuckle]

[thunder rumbling]

Mrs. Pretty, you better go in the shed.

Oh, yes.

[Brown] You’re gonna get very wet here.

[Pretty] I will.

[soothing instrumental music playing]

[Brown sighs]

[Brown panting]

[Pretty] I wanted to thank you for your patience with Robert.

He can hardly wait to see you in the mornings.

[Brown] Well, keeps me on me toes, having him around.

Do you have children?

No, uh, we, uh…


[Brown sniffles]

[Pretty] The servants tell me you’ve studied everything, from Latin to geology.

[Brown] Well, a little education is a dangerous thing.

[Pretty] Hmm. Apparently, you’ve written a book.

[Brown] I have.

A guide to astronomical maps and charts, to make them accessible to ordinary men.

[Brown] I left school when I was 12.

Always had a hunger to study.

[Pretty] I got a place at London University.

My father wouldn’t hear of it.

[birds singing]

Would you have dinner with me?

Well… thank you. Yes.

[Pretty exhales]

[Brown] Evening, Vera.

Surprise for you, Basil, in your room.

[Brown] Right.


I brought you some fresh shirts.

[Brown chuckles]

About time, I say.

Are you pleased to see me?

Of course I am.

[sighs, chuckles softly]

You didn’t know I was coming, did you?

[Brown] No. No, I didn’t.

I did tell you.

In my last letter.

[Brown] Oh, I was saving them for the weekend.

I’ve been working every hour. You know what I’m like. [chuckles]

Yes… I do.

[Brown] I’m very busy.

It looks like it. Nowhere to sit in here.

[Brown] There’s a lot going on here.

What’s that?

I said there’s nowhere to sit down.

[Brown] Yeah. Sorry about that. It’s all– So much going on.

You got something to show me? I think you have.

I can see it in your eyes.

I’m not saying anything.

[indistinct chatter]

[maid] There’s Mr. Brown with a woman.

I suppose it’s his wife. You know, she writes to him every day.

[knocking on door]

Come in.

Mr. Brown sends his apologies, ma’am.

That’s all. Thank you, Ellen. [sighs]

[Brown] A man could dig the earth his whole life through and not find anything like I’ve discovered here.

[May] She’s beautiful, all right.

[Brown] Yeah, she’s beautiful.

[May] You’ll have to watch your back with a thing like this.

[Brown] What do you mean?

[May] Everyone’s gonna want a piece of this here ship, and this is your find.

[Brown] Oh, May…

[May] Don’t let Ipswich Museum take your glory.

[Brown] He’s not gonna take–

[May] Or that lady at the manor.

She should be upping your wages again.

[Brown] She’s supportive.

[May] You asked?

[Brown] I ain’t gonna ask for more.

[Brown] Well, she’s very, very gracious, Mrs. Pretty.

[May] Your heart’s lost to this Viking maiden, I can tell.


[Brown] Ah, May, you sure you don’t want to stay the night?

I’ll miss my lift back.

[Brown] Right, yeah, um…

Well, thanks for coming, May.

[sighs] I do miss you.

I’ve been reading your books for company.

You haven’t.

[May] I have.


[laughing] Hell, it’s not much company, is it?

[May] No, they’re hard work, I tell you.

They are.

[both laughing]

Right. Well, it’s good of you to bring my shirts.

[May] Yeah.

[Brown grunts]

All right.

[Brown] I’ll read them letters tonight.

[May] Bye, then.

[Brown] Bye.

[engine rumbles]

[Brown breathing deeply]

[thunder rumbles]

[Brown gasps, sighs]


[rain pattering]



[grunting and panting]



[young man yelps]

[Brown gasps, grunts]

Let me help.

[Brown] Right.

Right, then. Get around that side and take this tarp.

That’s… That’s right. That’s right. There’s a stake there behind you.

Pull it hard.

[Brown] Where in God’s name did you come from?

[young man] I rode, actually, on my motorbike from Ipswich. [sniffles]

I’m Rory Lomax.

[Brown] Aye. Did Reid Moir send you?

From the museum?

[thunder rumbles]

I’m Edith Pretty’s cousin.

She telephoned, asked me to come.

Said you needed an extra pair of hands.

All right.

I pointed out my general lack of skill, but she was undeterred.

Right. Well… no doubt you’ll hear that my name is Brown. Basil Brown.

[Rory] Good to meet you.

[Brown] Now, it’s gonna be raining for a while, so go on and take a seat. [sniffles]

I expect you’d, uh, be wet, coming from Ipswich on a motorbike.

[Rory] I was, rather.

[Brown] Yeah.

[Rory] Just caught me at the end.

[Brown] Right.

Well, I’ll light the stove. Would you like some tea?

[Rory chuckles] Yes, please.

[Brown] I think we may have found, um, an old, uh, Anglo-Saxon ship.

When this rain clears tomorrow, maybe you can see what we’re doing.


How very exciting.

Yeah, it’s all right.

[thunder rumbles]

[Jacobs] Not gonna cover it.

[Brown] Get the second tarp.

Pass me the hammer, please.

[Jacobs] Right.

[Spooner] All right, then.

[Brown] Lift up.


[Brown] That’s right.

[indistinct chatter]


Hello, Spud.

[grunts] Arrived in the night. Didn’t want to wake you.

Where’s your mother?

[steam engine approaching]

[Robert] Oh, she’s gone to London.

[train whistle blows]

[passengers clamoring]

[somber piano music playing]

[man] Who knows if we’ll still be alive in a year?

[announcer on loudspeaker] The yellow and green balls denote gas.

Red denotes high explosives.

[children laughing]

[announcer] Red stripes are incendiary bombs.

If you are caught on the streets during an air raid, you must know the appropriate response to each form of attack.

No, don’t throw them about!

[Pretty] I was rushing to get here on time.

Might that have affected the results?

[doctor] Possibly, but the, uh, underlying condition is there.

The rheumatic fever you had as a child, it, uh, damaged the valves of your heart.

Irreparably, I’m afraid.

Another attack is likely to be much… more serious.

Possibly even fatal.

Is there nothing else that can be done?

[doctor] I’m sorry. I… I…

I wish I had better news.

[continues speaking indistinctly]

[Pretty sighs deeply]

[somber piano music swells]

[bells tolling]

[indistinct chatter]

[parking brake clicks]

[Grateley] Mr. Reid Moir is here, ma’am, with some other gentlemen.

They wouldn’t stop to give me their names.

Then they’re trespassing. Where are they?

On their way to the mounds.

Fetch them, quickly.


[Pretty] Lyons?


[Brown] Now, I’ve been reading up about the Oseberg Ship.

That’s a Viking ship they found in Norway.

There was a burial chamber in the center, roofed.

It’s a bit like we imagine Noah’s Ark.

Course, any roof here would have caved in long ago.

See, this line here.

The ground is higher, but this soil is darker.

So you think there’s something beneath?

Well, we may know by the end of today.

Ye gods!

This is incredible!

[Reid Moir] We at the Ipswich Museum pride ourselves on our work, and I… I think you’ll agree that it’s rock solid.

[Brown] You… You need to stop there.

I beg your pardon?

This is a very delicate site, and it ain’t safe.

Uh, not for a man of your size.

Is this your work?

Uh, yes. I’m Basil Brown, excavator.

[clears throat] Well, Basil Brown, excavator… I am Charles Phillips, archaeologist, and I’m here to tell you that, as this is a find of national interest, the British Museum will be taking charge.

Your work… looks, thankfully, decent, but your excavating service is no longer required.

Am… Am I to understand that you will be personally taking over?

Grimes, I have never seen anything like it.

Quite, sir.



[Phillips] Cancel everything I’ve got.

Find out who’s free. We need Piggott.

Find us lodgings, as near as you can.

[Brailesford] Yes, sir.

[Reid Moir] That dark soil in the middle, C.W., looks very promising.

You men, finish up, and don’t move another pebble!

[Brown] Excuse me, Mr. Phillips.

[splutters] I’m not employed by you.

I’m employed by Mrs. Pretty, and I’ll keep on working until she tells me different.

An ad hoc team from a provincial museum cannot be left in charge.

Mrs. Pretty must see that.

[lock clicks]

[doorbell ringing]

John, a minute is all I need. I… I know she’ll want to hear this.

All right, all right. Wait here.


[muttering softly]

[Grateley] She’ll see you tomorrow morning at 10:30.

She must know what I found.

[Grateley] Don’t push it, old boy!

[Brown] She must know!


[Brown] John!

[door rattles, creaks open]

[door closes]

Is he gone, Mr. Grateley?

[Brown] It’s not Grateley.

[Pretty gasps]

I… I’m sorry for disturbing you, but I believe… we may have found a burial chamber in the ship.

Does Mr. Phillips know?

[Brown] I don’t work for Mr. Phillips.

What are your wishes?

I, uh… He just informed me that, by order of the Ministry of Works, the site must be placed under his control.

Well, uh… [sighs]

…that’s that, then.

[sound fading]

[Brown, muffled] Well, I… I can carry on for one more day… if that’s what you’d like.

[somber instrumental music playing]

Are… Are you poorly, Mrs. Pretty?

Um… [sighs]

Perhaps you might, um… might ring the bell for me.


[bell rings]

He’s got no right to dictate to you.

This ship’s only appearing because of you.

Don’t forget why you wanted it begun.

Now, you said that was a feeling.

Your feeling is right.

[door creaks open]

Mr. Brown seems to have found his way in.

[Grateley] Mr. Brown.

All right.

[Pretty breathing shakily]

[Grateley] Is there anything I could bring you?

Fetch Ellen for me, please.

[sighs deeply]


[somber music swells]

[lighter clicks]

[Pretty sighs]

[exhales deeply]

[wind whistles]

[Phillips] Mrs. Pretty is keen to keep you on, so we’ll make good use of you.

Your primary task will be to keep the site in order.

So, I want the tumulus dug back to an area of four feet on either side, and I want those spoil heaps removed.

From now on, you’re not to set foot in the body of the ship without my express permission.

Carry on.

[Jacobs] Are you gonna put up with that, Basil?

[Brown sighs]

[Robert] Hello, Mr. Brown.

My mother’s got her heartburn.

Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.

She has to have peace and quiet. I made her this.

[Brown] Well, that’s a very fine rocket.

Where are you going?

Oh, I… Oh, I have to go home now.

When will you be back?

Well, uh… I’m sorry, Robert. I… I am.

Uh, but, Mr. Brown…

Mr. Brown!

Mr. Brown!

[Rory] It seems I’m out of a job.

[Rory] Phillips won’t let us in his ship.

His ship? Really?

I thought I might take some photographs. It could make a useful record.

Would you mind?

Not at all.

As long as they’re not of me.

[camera clicks]

Can’t say I blame Brown.

Such a decent man doesn’t deserve Phillips.

Blame him?

Well, he left this morning. Didn’t you know?

Where’s Robert?

[water pours]

[Robert panting]

[horn blares]

You don’t have another job?

I’ll write to Maynard, and he’ll give me something.

[May] Did you tell Mrs. Pretty you were leaving?

[Brown] I thought I’d let her work it out herself.

And that’s the thanks she gets for giving you the opportunity in the first place?

Mark my words, May, I won’t receive any credit.

I won’t even be a footnote.

[May] Is that why you took the job?

For credit?

How can I stay on?

Is that why you’ve been digging your whole life for barely enough to cover our rent?

No, May. I do it ’cause I’m good at it.

‘Cause that’s what my father taught me, and what his father taught him.

‘Cause you can show me a handful of soil from anywhere in Suffolk, and I can pretty much tell you whose land it’s from.

There you go.

[gentle instrumental music playing]

[bicycle bell rings]

[Robert panting]

[Robert] Excuse me. Do you know Basil Brown?

Do you know where he lives?

Yes, I know Basil.

He lives on a farm outside of the village. Carry on that way.

Thank you so much.


I found that ship.

I may not be a fellow at Cambridge, but I worked out what was down there.

And Jacobs and Spooner, too, and nobody’ll remember that.

You don’t know that.

And if you’re not around to see it to the end, there’s even less chance.

You always told me your work isn’t about the past or even the present.

It’s for the future.

So that the next generations can know where they came from.

The line that joins them to their forebears.

Isn’t that what you always say?

Yeah, something like that.

[May] Why else would the lot of you be playing in the dirt while the rest of the country prepares for war?

Because that means something, innit?

[Brown sighs]

Something that’ll last longer than whatever damn war we’re heading into.

Good hell.

That’s Robert.


[Robert panting]

[bicycle brakes squeak]


[Robert] Mr. Brown!

[Brown] Robert, have you cycled all this way?

You promised.

May! May!

You said you’d show me the cosmos. You promised.

Good heavens! Who have we here?

[Brown] This is Robert Pretty.

[May] Robert, I’m Mrs. Brown.

I bet you have a rare thirst after that long ride, don’t you?

[Robert] Mm-hmm.

Come you here.

Let’s get you a cup of milk.

[Brown] That’s a long way.

Does your mother know you’re here, Robert?

[May] How’d you find your way?

She know you cycled?

[May] Should I take your bike for you?

[Robert] Yes, please.

I better find a telephone, May. Call Mrs. Pretty.

[car approaching]

[Brown] Ah.

[Pretty] Thank you.

[Brown] He’s all right.

He’s inside. Uh, come this way.

[Pretty] Thank you.

We were obviously very worried.

Yes. He’s… He’s…

Uh, this is May, my wife.

Mrs. Pretty.

Thank you very much.

He’s been no trouble. A lovely boy.

Mrs. Brown has a music box from Whitby covered in all manner of shells.

Would you like to see?

Uh, no. We’ve imposed on your kindness enough.

What were you thinking?

You could have been lost or killed.

Robert… what were you thinking?

[Robert] I’m sorry, Mother.

Uh, Robert came to remind me of a promise that I made.

I said I’d show him the stars through my telescope.

Didn’t I?

Then you’re returning?

I am. Yes.

Thank you. [sighs]

[Rory] Morning!

[Brown] Morning.

Mr. Grimes. I’ve been, uh… taking notes.


If they be of any use.

Why, they’d save me days.

You must have suspected what was here.

[Brown] Well, you’ve made good progress.

[Grimes] As did you.

Thank you kindly.

[Grimes] It’s fine work, Mr. Brown.

[Brown] Yeah. Well, we made a start.


[Phillips] Our excavator has returned.

[Brown] Morning.

[Phillips] There’s a sign in the bottom of the ship that there could be an intact chamber.

[Piggott] Tremendously exciting.

[warplanes roaring overhead]

[Phillips grunts]

[Piggott] What about events in the wider world, C.W.?

How do you think it will affect us?

[Phillips] Judging by last night’s news…

I think we could be at war in a matter of weeks, and every excavation in the land will stop.

So, it’s up to us. [clears throat]

[Piggott sighs]

Oh, good lord. [gasps]


[Piggott] Jim! Billy Grimes!


How the devil are you?

[Piggott chuckles] Very well.

This is my wife, Margaret.


[Brailesford] Mrs. Piggott, a pleasure to meet you.

[Peggy] Mr. Phillips, I– um, I wanted to say how pleased I was that you specifically asked for me to come.

I know Stuart sent you my paper on Bosnian Lake villagers.

It was awfully good of you to read it.

Ah, yes. Um, very stimulating.

[Peggy chuckles] I hope I’ll be able to repay your faith in me.

[Phillips] I have no doubt.

It’s just that I haven’t done much actual fieldwork yet.

Uh, so I wouldn’t want you to think I’m more experienced than I really am.

[Phillips] Ah, you have all the key attributes.

[Peggy] Do I?

This ship is very delicate.

[Peggy] Mm-hmm.

One could say, it, um, scarcely exists at all.

Too much weight, it disintegrates.

You’re probably less than nine stone, so I’ll supervise from here while you light things get on with the digging.

Am I to understand you only asked for me because of my size?

Uh, lucky guess, actually.

[chuckles] Yeah, thank God Piggott didn’t marry a piglet.

[group laughs]

[Phillips] Carry on!

[somber instrumental music playing]

[Phillips] How does it look to you?

[Brailesford] Sir?

[camera clicks]

[crew chattering]

[Phillips] What have you got there?

[camera clicks]

[seagulls crying]

[Robert imitating weaponry firing]

[camera clicks]

[Brailesford] All right, then.

[camera clicks]

[indistinct chatter]

[Piggott] First round’s on me, chaps!

[Phillips] Very nice of you.

[group continues chattering indistinctly]

[Peggy laughing]

[coughs] Do they not have a… a double?

[Piggott] Sorry, darling, no. This is fine, though, isn’t it?

We don’t… We don’t want to start by making a fuss.

Oh, no. Of course not.

We’re so lucky to be part of this. [sighs]

[Peggy] Yes.

[exhales] Yes, it’s going to be amazing.



Would you prefer this bed… or… or… or that one?

I’ll… I’ll take this one, shall I?

[Peggy sighs]

[Brown] You need to find a star and identify its direction of travel.

Good evening, gentlemen.

[Brown] Good evening, Mrs. Pretty.

Hello, Mother.

[Pretty] Hello, darling.


[Robert] Do space pilots navigate using the stars?

[Brown] Oh, most certainly, they do.

Ten more minutes, Commander. Then, bed.

[dramatic orchestral music playing]

[Robert] I see a star.

[group singing indistinctly]

[birds singing]

[Brown] All right.

[Peggy grunting]


Oh, God!

[Phillips] What’s going on?

[Peggy] It just gave way.

[Phillips] Get her off there!

Piggott, get her off!

Oh, I’m so sorry!

I didn’t mean to damage anything.

[Piggott sighs] Oh, you…

What you got, Brailesford?

[Brown] You all right?

[Brailesford] Sort of rusted lumps.

[Phillips] Come on, man. Where’s your training?

[Brailesford] Uh, an amorphous mass of corroded objects, sir.

You, get your camera down there. Photograph it.

That’s… That’s very hot in the full sun.

Oh, I’m fine. Thank you.

Watch your step there. This could well be our chamber.

[Pretty] Some barley water, Mrs. Piggott?

[sighs] Thank you. So clumsy.

[Pretty] Oh, not at all.

[flies buzzing]

[Peggy exhales] Oh.

That’s a very lovely skirt.

[Peggy] Oh.

[chuckles] Completely useless. I don’t have anything more suitable.

We came straight from our holiday.

Did you really?

[Peggy chuckles] Yes.

[Pretty] Well, come to the house.

Let’s see what we can find.

Is Mrs. Pretty still poorly?

She says she’s perfectly fine, but…

[whispering] …that’s typical of her.

[men hollering, laughing]

Damn this weather.

Losing a whole day.

So little time before world events…

confound us.

[men continue laughing]

[Phillips] It’s a race, an absolute race.

[Pretty] Then you are wasting the talents of Mr. Brown.

Well, that’s an excellent idea.

Stuart couldn’t fault his work. Could he not be unearthing the stern?

[Phillips] Mr. Brown isn’t qualified.

Well, that’s just snobbery, isn’t it, Mr. Phillips?

[Brailesford and Piggott chuckling and chatting]

[Phillips] Brown!

[Peggy clears throat]

[Phillips] Brown!

Brown, come here, man!

[footsteps approaching]

[Piggott gasps] Oh my God, Margaret.

[Peggy sighs]


Sorry. I forgot to lock the door.

[chuckles] No, you see, we… we… we share that bathroom with… with four other rooms, and, you know, I could have been anyone.

Um, I could’ve been Grimes or Phillips.

[Peggy scoffs]

But you’re not. You’re my husband.

[chuckles] Yes, but how… how do you think I’d feel if… if one of them saw you in that state?

[scoffs] Oh! In what state?


[giggles] In this state?

Christ, I– Stop.

You should be more careful. It’s…

You know, now, after… after waiting eons, I shall… I shall go and have my bath.

[door opens, closes]

[Peggy sighs]

[birds chirping]

[Grimes] Mr. Spooner.

[Spooner] Right.

Morning, Mr. Piggott.

[chuckles nervously] C.W.


[whispers] You might have woken me.

I didn’t like to.

You made me appear late.

[Pretty reading indistinctly]

[crew chattering and laughing]

[Piggott whispering] Careful, Stuart. You’ve got a delicate line now, man.

Very delicate.

You ready?


[Phillips] Just a moment.

You have to be very careful now. No cavalier lifting.

[both laughing]

[Phillips] Very gently.

Yes, sir.

[Phillips] On my count. One, two, three.

[softly] And we do it this way.

[Peggy gasps]

[Rory] Don’t move.

[camera clicks]

[Peggy breathing shakily]

[Brailesford] Piggott, look.

[dramatic instrumental music playing]

[Piggott] Where did you find it, darling? You clever girl.


Look at this, sir.

Look. Look!

[Phillips] Ah, good Lord.

[Piggott] His face!

[crew laughing]


Mrs. Pretty, there’s more.

[Brown] And here. And here too.

[Peggy] There’s much more.

[energetic instrumental music playing]

[crew chatting indistinctly]

[excited chatter]

[Brown] Could you both, uh, cast your eyes on this, please?

I, uh, found it down between the strikes.

I believe that’s a Merovingian tremissis.

Late 6th century.

[Phillips scoffs] Can’t be.

Viking East Anglia didn’t have a coin-based economy till the 9th century.

[Brown] Well, I think that the ship is older.

Mr. Brown has always said so.

This is Anglo-Saxon.

Piggott! Grimes!

It’s Dark Age, by Jupiter!

Sixth century!

This changes everything.

These people were not just marauding barterers.

They had culture!

They had art!

They had money!

[Grimes] Well, Vikings are out the window.

[Piggott gasps]

C.W., look.

[Peggy] God’s sake.

Oh, good God.

[crew laughing]

[Phillips] Brown has just shown me a Merovingian tremissis.

[Piggott exclaims]

[crew laughs]

That’s Anglo-Saxon.

[Phillips] It’s incredible!


[camera clicks]

[birds singing]

[Peggy] Hello.

Are you camping out here?

[Robert] No. That’s where my cousin Rory sleeps.

[Peggy] Is he not allowed indoors?

[Robert] No, he… he thinks the house is too hot.

[Peggy chuckles] I can imagine.

[Robert] He’s going to join the RAF.

Is he?

They’re sending his papers any day.

He’s going to get his wings.


Well done, everybody, on a splendid effort.

Brailesford, Piggott, if you’ll start loading the gold into the car, we’ll get it straight to the British Museum.

[Pretty] I beg your pardon?

[seagulls crying]

Well, it’s the obvious place for it, Mrs. Pretty.

[Pretty] London is preparing for air raids.

The British Museum is currently being emptied of its treasures, isn’t it?

[Phillips] Uh, yes, but, um, it… it’ll go to the lab.

[Pretty] This treasure came from someone’s grave.

There’ll be an inquest, as you know, and its fate will be decided there.

Until then, Mr. Brown… as the finder of this magnificent ship, would you please take the treasure up to the house?

Uh, yes, Mrs. Pretty.

Thank you all very much.

[Brown] Right, uh, gentlemen, I’ll need some assistance. Mr. Lomax?

[Phillips] This is most irregular.

[Grimes] It all belongs to Mrs. Pretty, doesn’t it?

It’s found on her land.

[Piggott] Well, surely, the inquest will decide

whether the treasure belongs to Mrs. Pretty or the Crown.

[Phillips] Piggott, do you want this treasure to go to the Ipswich Museum?

[Pretty] Am I doing the right thing?

It’s someone’s grave.

[Brown] No, that’s… that’s life what’s revealed.

And that’s why we dig.

[Pretty] Just in here. I think that’s best.

They’re like emissaries from another world.

[Rory] I used to camp with Robert’s father, you see.

[Rory] I remember him telling me the calls of all the birds.

Now, whenever I hear nightingales, I think of these woods.

[Peggy] Are there nightingales?

Haven’t you heard them?

[Peggy] No.

Never heard a nightingale at all. Only on the wireless.

There’s a wonderful cellist called Beatrice Harrison.

In the summer evenings, she used to practice in the garden, and… one night, she was playing a scale, and a… a nightingale joined in.

At first, she couldn’t believe it. She started playing a sonata, and the nightingale accompanied her.

[Rory] Really?

[Peggy] Mm-hmm. Yes.

[chuckles] Yes. It happened again the next night and next night.

Miss Harrison was so excited about it, she went to the BBC and told them all about it.

[Rory] And?

[Peggy] So, a few evenings later,

the BBC came and put their recording equipment in Miss Harrison’s garden.

She started to play, and they waited and, um, waited… and… and at last, the nightingale began to sing.

Went on for about 15 minutes… rising and falling with the cello.


[both laughing]



I know. Hmm.


But… the really extraordinary thing is that… other people who’d been listening to the broadcast in their gardens reported that other nightingales also started to sing.

Well, that’s wonderful.

Yes, it was. It was wonderful.

[Piggott] Margaret!

Come on!

[Peggy sighs] All right. Hmm.

Well… good night.

I shall listen out for cellos in the woods.

[Peggy chuckles]

[Rory scoffs]

“Cellos.” [mumbles]

[crowd chattering]

[Brailesford] Here we are, chaps.

[Phillips] All right.

[Brailesford] Well, we are unburying a legend.


Arthur, King of the Britons.


Talk about Dark Ages. I can hardly see my pint.

What actually is that?

[Piggott] It’s the, uh, trial blackouts, C.W.

[Phillips] Ah.

So Germans will be coming by air this time, will they?

Last time, they came by the river.

In AD 600.

[group laughing]

You know, I’m… It’s been a big day. I’m quite done in.

Um, will you all excuse me?


Well done, Mrs. P, on a marvelous find.

[Brailesford] Yes. Cheers to your clever wife!

Yeah. No, I’ll come with you, darling.


No, no. Um, surely you want to celebrate.

Stay for another, Piggott.

My round. Set them up again, would you?

I say, C.W., ask him if he’ll take a Merovingian tremissis.

[group laughing]

[radio announcer] …the press campaign, the menacing statements of the statesmen leading the policy of Germany, the systematic provocation of frontier incidents, and finally, the constantly increasing concentrations of mobilized armed forces at the Polish frontiers constitute an obvious proof of this.

A Labour deputation called on the Prime Minister last night, requesting the immediate evacuation of women, children, and cripples as precaution against the sudden outbreak of war.

[man 1 in film] He’ll find Buck Rogers if anybody can.

[ships whirring]

[man 2 in film] Get the guards, you fools!

If they get away, I’ll put every man of you in the robot battalion!

[somber piano music playing]

[whispering] Not yet.

Not yet. [sniffles]

Darling, C.W. wants me to take some of the corroded iron to the lab.

Uh, we think it might be fragmented armor, and I… I badly want to start cleaning it up. So…

Am I to come with you?

No, because C.W. needs all the hands he can get here, so, uh…

And he’s very pleased with you.

Is he?

[Piggott] Mm.

Uh, so I’m taking Brailesford because the lab’s really his thing.

You know.

Ah. Oh.

You’re going to have to be a brick about it, Margaret.

[Peggy] Peggy.

My name’s Peggy.

[warplanes roaring]

[Peggy sighs]


I’ll… I’ll… I’ll miss you very much, Peggy.

Sorry to take him away from you.

[engine starts]

[Peggy sighs]

[Peggy] It was very kind of you to invite me, Mrs. Pretty.

[Pretty] You can’t possibly stay in that pub without your husband.

Mr. Phillips would bore you quite to death.

Um, have you developed any of your photographs yet, Mr. Lomax?

I’ve made a start. I’ve got a mountain to do, and I better get through them.

I could get my papers any day.

Rory has been accepted into the RAF.

Should I congratulate you?

I don’t know. Cousin Edith didn’t.

This looks delicious.

[Pretty] Bon appétit.

[Pretty] Don’t be too long, now, darling. It’s late.

[Brown] And now, that’s a partial eclipse of the moon.

[Pretty] And don’t run.

[Pretty] Oh, dear.

[Pretty] Wait for us.

[Pretty] Isn’t that a bad omen?

[Brown] Well, they used to think so.

[Pretty] It does make you feel the gods are angry.

The people who buried that ship…

What did they believe?

[Brown] Well… they were sailing somewhere, weren’t they?

Down to the underworld or up to the stars.

[Pretty] Wherever we go when we die.

[Phillips] So we’re rather coming to the dregs, aren’t we?

The coroner has been in touch.

An inquest has been called for Friday, and your presence is required.

There’s been quite a lot of public interest in our ship.

So afterwards, I’ve invited everyone to come and see it.

Uh… everyone?

[Pretty] The villagers are coming and my friends from the county.

May I remind you just how fragile this site is?

Please feel free to invite your families and friends.

Mrs. Pretty…

[warplane sputtering]

Good God.

[Pretty] Robert?

[warplane engine stops]

[loud crashing]

[water splashes]

Don’t let anyone swim! It’s tidal. The current is fierce!


[dramatic music playing]

[inhales deeply]

[Rory panting and grunting]

They train these boys on rickety planes from the Great War.

My husband said, “If you want your son to die, then let him join the Air Force.”

[Peggy] They say this war will be fought in the air.

[Robert] What happened, Mother?

Is he all right?

I must get Robert up to the house.

Shall I take him for you?

He won’t want to go.

Uh, I’ll ask him to look after me.

[Pretty] Thank you.

[Peggy] Robert!

[Robert] Yes?

[Peggy sighs] I… I feel rather faint.

Oh, well, when I feel faint, I have a good lie-down and a big glass of water.

[Peggy] Do you?

[Robert] And that does the trick.

[Peggy] That’s what I need.

Will you take my hand?

[Robert] Sure.

[seagulls screeching]

[Pretty exhales deeply]

[Peggy] His name was David Atkinson. It was his second solo flight.

Police and the coroner are here. I brought you some dry things.

[Rory] I’ve got some coffee back at my tent.

Would you like some?

[Peggy] My father drowned…

on a holiday in Cornwall.

He was taken by the current.

[Rory] I’m sorry.

[Peggy] Oh, no.

It was a long time ago.

He had epilepsy.

So, what drew you to photography?

[Rory] Oh, I suppose it’s, um…

It’s just a way of trying to fix things as they… as they go past.

[Peggy] Mm.

[Rory] Keep what’s vital from being lost.

My father once gave me an old coin… and he said it was from the time of Caesar Augustus.

And I knew the story from the Bible where Jesus showed the disciples a coin.

“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”

[chuckles lightly]


And I… [sighs] …well, I… I became convinced that the coin I had was the one that Jesus had actually shown the disciples.

I used to marvel that I could hold it.

What happened to your coin?



I wear it. [chuckles]

[Rory gasps]

I thought it might bring me luck.

And has it?

If 1,000 years…

were to pass in an instant…

what would be left of us?

[Peggy] This.

And parts of your watch.


Fragments of the mug.

[Rory] But every last scrap of you and I would… disappear.

[Rory] Listen.

[nightingales singing]

[Peggy] What?

[both gasp, laugh]

[Pretty sighs]

[Robert] The pilot died, didn’t he?

Yes, darling.


[sighs, breathing shakily]

[Robert] Rory won’t die, will he?

I’m sorry.


You won’t die?

[breathing shakily]

[Pretty gasping]

[Peggy] Mrs. Pretty?

[Pretty continues gasping]

[Peggy] Are you unwell?

I’ve, um…

Perhaps you might lead me to my room.

Yes, of course. Of course.


[Peggy] Are you all right?

[Pretty laughing weakly] Yes! Yes.

[Peggy] Should I call a doctor?

[Pretty] No, no, no. It’s…

It’s heartburn. It’s…

[muffled] No, I don’t want to wake him.

[Robert gasps]

[Pretty gasping]

[Peggy] Mrs. Pretty, are you all right?

[Pretty] I’m such a bore.

Would you mind… Would you mind getting me some milk?

[Peggy] Yes.

Thank you.

[Peggy] Are you sure?

[sobbing] Yes, thank you.

[Peggy] Oh.

Robert! Darling…


[Robert panting]


[Brown] Oh! Robert.

[Robert groans]

[Brown] You all right?

[Robert shouts]

[Brown] Robert?

I know she’s sick. I know it! There’s nothing I can do!

Why is there nothing I can do? I should be able to make her better.

You do. You do make her better.

[Robert] No, she’s worse. She is, I can see it!


She is.

When… When my father died…

[sobs heavily]

[Brown] Mm.

…everyone said I had to look after my mother.

[sniffles] And I failed.

I failed.


[gentle instrumental music playing]

…we all fail.

Every day.

There are some things we just can’t succeed at… no matter how hard we try.

I know it’s not what you want to hear.

I… I’m stronger than she thinks I am.

[Brown] I know. Perhaps you’ll show her.

Now… we should get you inside, Robert.

Come on.

I think it’s time for your bed, you know. Come on, then.

[Pretty breathing steadily]

[Brown and Robert speaking indistinctly]

[Phillips laughing]

[Phillips] Apparently, there’s a whole convoy of hacks on the way.

I already have some joker from the Sunday Mirror asking me if the ship is still seaworthy.

So, what happens to the treasure? That’s the real question.

[radio announcer] Germany has invaded Poland…

[Piggott] Have you seen my wife?

…and has bombed many towns.

Orders completing the mobilization of the Navy, Army, and Air Force were signed by the King at a meeting this afternoon of the privy council.

[radio announcer 2] The King and Queen decided…

[Phillips sighs] Well.

Here we go, then.

The Queen drove from the palace to visit the Westminister ARP headquarters.

[somber instrumental music playing]

[Rory] I’ve just received this.

I’m to report to RAF Martlesham this morning.

There’s the inquest.

[scoffs] It’s my medical assessment. I can’t… I can’t bunk it. Sorry.

I put some photographs in the dining room for your guests.

Rory, I’m telling you in no uncertain terms that you cannot possibly die.


[Pretty] I’m saying this most seriously. Don’t you dare put yourself in danger.

Well… I’m not sure I shall have much choice. [chuckles]

Robert is going to need you.

Do you understand?

[Brown] Good morning, Robert.

Today’s the day.

I want to take my mother sailing.

I don’t think that ship is sailing anywhere.

You know, it’s just compacted sand.

There’s nothing holding it, except time.

That won’t matter. Not where we’re going.

Now, where’s that, then?

Will you come?

[Brown] Well, if I’m invited, I’ll come.


[Rory] Hello.

Those for me?

[laughs] No, I’m looking for my wife.

Well, perhaps you’d say goodbye for me.

I’ve been called up.


Of course.

Well, best of British.


[Piggott] I… I bought you these.

How lovely.

Um, Lomax was just telling me that he’s been called up.


Uh, well, it…

[Rory] Um…

[Peggy] Well, I…

Uh, I’d better go. Goodbye.


[radio announcer] According to an official telegram, Warsaw has been bombed six times today.

The telegram adds that fighting of a most serious nature continues on the whole length of the front.

We’re in for another bloody mess.

[reporter 1] Oh, here we go. Did you hear the results?

[people and reporters clamoring]

[reporter 2] I just want a quick photo!

[woman] Mrs. Pretty!

[officer] Please, make way.

[crowd clamoring]

[Brown] Make way, please.

Do you want me in the car with you?

[Pretty] Yes.

[Brown] Maynard! Maynard!

Maynard? Can you make sure my wife gets in the house?

[crowd continues clamoring]

[Phillips] I… I hope I have the opportunity to speak to you later.

[woman 2] Mrs. Pretty?

[woman 3] Mrs. Pretty!

[car horn honking loudly]

[crew speaking indistinctly]

[reporters shouting]

[Pretty breathing shakily]

[sobbing] I’m terribly sorry.

Thank you. Thank you.

[Phillips] These people were not savage warriors.

These… These… These were…

These were sophisticated people with incredible artistry.

The Dark Ages are no longer dark.

[brass band playing fanfare]

[indistinct chatter]

[glasses clink]

This is sherry. I suppose it’s sherry, is it?

[May] I don’t know.

Should we drink it now, or is there going to be a toast?

What’s everyone else doing?

[glass clinks repeatedly]

[fanfare ends]

[Pretty] The artifacts discovered here have caused a national sensation.

[Pretty] You must all know by now that they were recovered from a chamber in the middle of a ship… a burial ship, engineered from oak.

In my opinion, the greatest and most beautiful treasure of all.

Ninety feet long, lying east to west.

Found and excavated by Mr. Basil Brown.

[guests applaud]

To Basil!

Mr. Brown!

[guests cheer]

[sound fades]

[engine running]

[Pretty sobbing, sniffling]

I’m terribly sorry.

I thought you’d be pleased with the verdict.

[Pretty] We die.

We die and we decay.

We don’t live on.

I’m not sure I agree.

From the first human handprint on a cave wall… we’re part of something continuous.

[Brown] So, we… don’t really die.

[gentle piano music playing]

[Peggy cries softly]

[footsteps approaching]

[Pretty] Rory put these out this morning.

It completely slipped my mind.

[Peggy sobbing]

Sit down.

[Peggy continues sobbing]

[Pretty] I’m sure work like yours is very sustaining… but it’s not enough.

Life is very fleeting.

I’ve learnt that.

It has moments you should seize.

It could not be a better result, Mrs. Pretty.

The whole of Suffolk has been on your side.

[Pretty] Yes.

I saw you in her car.

Did she mention her intentions?

About the tea?

[scoffs] About the treasure, man.


Yes, what’s she planning?

We hope that you’ll agree that the Ipswich Museum is the perfect place for–

Can we talk another time? Excuse me.

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Yes.

[Phillips] She trusts you, man.

Don’t let her give it to Ipswich.

The British Museum would buy everything.

It’s priceless, of course, but she’ll have to be reasonable.

Are you asking me to plead your case?

[Phillips sighs forcefully]

Have some lemon drizzle cake, Mr. Phillips.

It is most refreshing.

[Phillips sighs]

Thank you so much for what you said. I could have cheered.

[Pretty] Mm-hmm.

[May sighs]

[Pretty] My son has formed a strong attachment.

[May] Basil’s very fond of him, too.

Perhaps you might let him visit you from time to time.

Of course.

We’d be glad to.

[indistinct chatter]

[Piggott laughing]

[Piggott] Back in a tick.

[Brailesford] Right.

[crew speaking indistinctly]

C.W.’s suggesting we make a move to the ball.

Hmm. Well, I think that you should go on… [clears throat] …uh, without me.

So, will… will you follow us?

[Peggy sighs] Uh…


I don’t think so.



We both have our own paths to, um, follow, don’t we?

And I’ve seen you when you’re happy.

You’re rather beautiful.

I’m happy with you.

[sighs lightly]

I could… I could learn to be.

[Peggy sighs]

I think that would be an awful shame.

[Brailesford] Stuart! Shall we wait?

[Phillips] Let’s… Let’s go. Come on.

Go on.

Go on.

[Brown] Hmm.

May… [clicks tongue]

That site, it needs to be made safe for the future, so it… it don’t further decay. So… that’s another week’s work.

[May] You say your goodbyes to the old girl.

Do you take care of her.

You… You don’t want to stay the night?

I’ll see you next week.

[Brown exhales]

[warplanes humming]

[Brown] I’ll line the hull with hessian… and cover that with a… a layer of branches… to protect it from the weight of the earth.

All this soil’s got to go back in.

Leave it as we found it.

I’m giving the treasure to the British Museum.

As a gift.

It should be where the greatest number of people can freely see it.

I haven’t told them yet.

I wanted to tell you.

[clicks tongue] Well, that’s a… That’s a hell of a big gift.

[chuckles softly] I don’t know anyone’s ever made a gift as big as that.

Apparently, they haven’t.

I also told Mr. Phillips that I expect your work to receive proper recognition.

Thank you.

[birds calling]

[somber piano music playing]

[Brown humming]

[Peggy takes a deep breath]


[birds singing]

[branches rustling]

[Peggy gasps]

[Robert] Steer it steady, Mr. Brown.

[Brown] Aye, aye.

We’re coming towards the edge of the atmosphere.

Can you see it, Mother?

We’re sailing into the cosmos.

Yes, I can. Where are we heading?

Orion’s Belt, to take the Queen home.

[Pretty] Which Queen?

This boat’s hers. Her people gave her treasure for her home voyage.

[Robert] And she was sad when the ship came… because she knew she’d be leaving everyone behind.

And she was worried that they wouldn’t get on very well without her… but she knew she had to follow the King into the sky.

And so, she set off… through the Earth and up into the cosmos.

Space is a funny thing.

[Pretty chuckles]

Time operates quite differently up there, and 500 years can pass in a flash.

And the Queen looked back down to Earth.

She could see that her son had grown up and that he was now a space pilot.

[Pretty laughs]

[Robert] And she knew that when he made his first journey up to the stars, she would be there to meet him.

[Peggy panting, sobbing]

[seagulls crying]

[Peggy moans]

[Chamberlain on radio] This morning, the British ambassador in Berlin handed the German government a final note… stating that, unless we heard from them by 11 o’clock, that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us.

I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that, consequently, this country is at war with Germany.

Good night, sir.

Good night to you.

[indistinct chatter]

[Chamberlain] You can imagine what a bitter blow it is to me that all my long struggle to win peace has failed.

Good night to you.

Good night.

[somber piano music playing]

[Chamberlain] The government have made plans under which it will be possible to carry on the work of the nation in the days of stress and strain that may be ahead…

[coin jingles]

…but these plans need your help.

[Peggy sighs]

[Chamberlain] You may be taking your part in the fighting services or as a volunteer.

If so, you will report for duty in accordance with the instructions you receive.

[Peggy sighs]

[Chamberlain] It is of vital importance that you should carry on with your jobs.

Now, may God bless you all.

[thunder rumbling in distance]

[rain pattering]

[wind whipping]

[Brown takes a deep breath, sniffles]

[Brown grunting]

[men grunting lightly]

[crew speaking indistinctly]

[energetic orchestral music playing]

[somber instrumental music playing]


2 thoughts on “The Dig (2021) – Transcript”

  1. Peter Georgiades

    Edith Pretty’s childhood sickness was rheumatic fever, not “pneumatic” fever!
    Peter Georgiades (Cyprus)

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