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Exclusive interview – Mick Aston: an archaeological journey

18 mins read

Real-life Archaeologists rarely become household names. Mick Aston is an exception. A defining voice in the development of Time Team and stalwart of the show since its first season in 1994, Mick’s resignation earlier this year ignited a media firestorm. He was in the news again in July after receiving a lifetime achievement award at the British Archaeological Awards. CA caught up with Mick earlier this year at his Somerset house to hear his reflections on archaeology past, present and future.

CA: How did you get into archaeology?

MA: My dad was a big influence. He was a fantastic professional cabinet maker. All the furniture in this house was made by him and yet in writing he could hardly string a sentence together. He was ignorant in that original sense of the word. But he was desperate to know more, and realised that unless I was going to be on the factory floor with him, I had to get educated. So he was over the moon when I passed the 11+ exam, and completely gaga when I got into university — this was another planet for people like him.

One Christmas, it was probably 1962 or 1963, I got two books. One was a list of scheduled ancient monuments in England and Wales— hardly a gripper of a Christmas present was it? — and the other was the Collins Field Guide to Archaeology, by Eric Wood. What was nice about Eric Wood was that he didn’t just talk about famous monuments, he included bomb craters and dew ponds — all the stuff you actually come across when you’re wandering about the countryside. I thought that was wonderful. And because of the list of scheduled monuments I decided to go and see them. That meant bunking off school, or at least when my class went on a trip, I went off on my own personal one. It usually involved a combination of buses, walking and trespassing. I’m a terrible trespasser, always have been, I don’t really acknowledge private property at all!

After I’d exhausted all the sites nearby I discovered the CBA list of excavations. The nearest dig was at Wall in Staffordshire, and it was run by a chap called Jim Gould — a school teacher who dug at weekends. A bypass was about to be built, so they were digging on the line of that. On the first day Jim said to me, ‘can you clean up this Roman road?’ so I looked in this hole, and there was just gravel all the way across. I couldn’t see a Roman road at all. But Jim was an excellent teacher, who patiently explained that the gravel was the road! Not long after I went to university at Birmingham to study geography.

At Birmingham you could take archaeology as a subsidiary for two years, so I did that — though it was all Classical Mediterranean stuff. But Philip Rahtz had just been appointed and was living in this lilac caravan on the university carpark. There were all these letters about him in the university newsletter, asking ‘who is this long-haired, bearded hermit in the carpark?’ Anyway, Philip put up this little sign saying ‘anyone who wants to go digging, come to me on Saturday.’ I thought ‘that sounds good.’ That was the beginning — and what an introduction!

I turned up early — as I was a young, enthusiastic man — and was offered a cup of coffee. So then I needed to go to the loo. The loo door was covered in pictures of various ladies, some of whom I recognised. I thought to myself ‘this is a very interesting world I’ve dropped in on here’. And then off we went in his little Renault camper van. Every time we went around a bend, a draw in the kitchen unit opened, and it was full of every type of contraceptive you can imagine. Then we’d go around another bend and it would shut again! For several years we spent our weekends and vacs and non-term time travelling from site to site that needed digging because it was going to be destroyed. It was one rescue dig after another.

Excavating with Philip was like an apprenticeship. We learnt archaeology by doing it, and that’s how we taught the volunteer diggers at Shapwick and teach the volunteer diggers at Winscombe [Mick’s field projects, Shapwick is now finished, while Winscombe is ongoing]. One of the things that troubles me about some universities is that you ask departmental staff what their field project is, and they don’t have one. They’re not going out. How can you possibly teach it if you’re not doing it? I think it’s really worrying.

 

CA: Was it this desire to reach the widest possible audience that led you to develop Time Team with Tim Taylor?

MA:  I saw it as an extension of my work as an extra-mural tutor. Time Team was a way of reaching 3 million people rather than 30 people in the village hall. But it didn’t alter the fact of what I was trying to do. Archaeology is not essential. It isn’t something that we need. The fact that some of us have done it for a living means that we are really fortunate. But if it comes to council housing, or hospital beds, there wouldn’t be any question. There are things that are more important. We need to make people realise how interesting it is, and we succeeded.

Years ago I was talking to a friend who has to advise on archaeology for gravel companies. She dreaded it, because it often involved selling the importance of archaeology to these big, self-made entrepreneurs. That could be hard. Then one day she went into a meeting and rather than being hostile the gravel company executive just said ‘Oh, is it like that programme with Baldrick on it?’ And she said ‘Well yes’. So they said ‘That’s all alright then. We know all about that.’ It’s a great example of how Time Team was reaching people that didn’t know or care about archaeology before.

But even though Time Team built up an incredible audience, the archaeological world never really ran with it. All the public interest generated in that first 15 year period was wasted. Our colleagues were too busy saying ‘you can’t do it in three days’, or ‘I don’t like the way you’ve done that.’ Nit picking really, but it could get nasty. If you went to a pub and mentioned Time Team to a bunch of archaeologists you’d instantly have a fight on your hands. People who got what the programme was doing thought it was great, but others just said ‘you can’t do archaeology like that’. I feel as though I’ve suffered from that for 20 years.

Professor Mick Aston

Born 1st July 1946

OxfordCityand County Museum Field Officer: 1970-1974

County Archaeologist for Somerset: 1974-1978

External Studies Department, Oxford University Tutor in Local Studies: 1978-1979

Extramural Department, Birmingham University: 1979-

Extramural Department and Archaeology Department, University of Bristol: 1979-2004

Time Team: 1994-2012

CA: Did you enjoy your time on the show?

Time Team are a great gang when you get them together. There are some real party people. And there was always a subtext of some running joke going on. It was really funny. I do miss that side of it. And there’s a real focus to what they’re doing — none of them is motivated by money or anything like that. It’s all the archaeology — and getting the story out of it. There wasn’t anybody who wasn’t like that. And the things that would emerge over those three days, you’d get to the end and think ‘that was bloody fantastic. All that stuff we know now, fancy sorting that out.’ They’re very fast and effective. The diggers know they’re going to be interrupted with the filming, because it takes a lot of time to film the stuff. And they have to make up that time. They work very fast and accurately. I think it’s tremendously impressive. Those were the days, in many ways. But not anymore I’m afraid.

 

CA: Why did you decide to leave Time Team?

MA:  It wasn’t that enough was enough. They had me down as archaeological consultant. I’ve always taken that to mean they can have endless advice and guidance out of me. The phone would go at all times of the day and night — a director, producer, researcher wanting to check things. I’ve always been there for them. I saw it as part of my job. If you want to guide it properly, you’ve got to be available. Then in September or October two years ago they had a meeting at Channel 4 in which they decided to play with the format, bring new presenters in, and get rid of five people on the archaeological side. And for some reason they didn’t think ‘oh, we’d better run that past Mick. He’s the archaeological consultant, he might have an opinion on that.’

I don’t play games like that. If they’d have said ‘Mick there’s a meeting in London, and we know you hateLondon, but it’s really important. It’s about the future of the programme, so we want you to be there.’ Then I would have gone. But I wasn’t given the option.

 

CA: You’ve talked about a feeling that despite inspiring a new generation of archaeologists you have not left a legacy. Why is that?

MA:  I don’t mean Time Team, I mean my life in archaeology. A lot of people write to me and say I’m wrong, but what will the situation be in 10 years time? There’ll be no legacy because the profession never picked up on it — cashed in if you like — and developed what we did with Time Team. It’s the same with extramural teaching. So it all feels like a waste of time. All the public education I’ve done will come to a grinding halt with me. So there is no legacy. And that really makes me angry and sad. I’ve spent much of the last 10 years looking for someone to replace me and I can’t find anyone. No one leaps out as the one to be the next celebrity archaeologist, if you like. It’s partly because extramural teaching has stopped. Running those courses was great training for television, because just like extramural teaching you never know where the brick bats are coming from next!

 

CA: As a celebrity archaeologist, your predecessor was Mortimer Wheeler…

MA: Surely not. I’m not in the same league. And we’re not the same sort of person. He was perfect for ‘Animal, Vegetable, Mineral’ in the 1950s. I might have been alright for Channel 4 in the 1990s. But what we need now is someone who’s good for X in the 2010s. Someone who will be as unlike me as Mortimer Wheeler. Whoever spots that person will be onto a winner. And I could give them some very good advice! Because I now know after 20 years what my mistake was.

 

CA: Go on!

MA: The first was that I should have got an agent — which I’ve never had — and taken the time to make sure it was someone who understood what I was trying to do. The second is that I should have become an Associate Producer on Time Team. Then I would have been part of the decision whenever there were changes to the personnel or format of the programme. As an annually hired presenter I was in a very weak position. So those are the two mistakes that anyone else should get right.

 

CA: Looking back over the last 40 years, how do you view the changes in archaeology since you started out in the 1960s?

MA: A lot of it is for the good. You see the big development sites of today and there is no way we could handle those without the organisations we have now: The York Archaeological Trust, the Oxford Unit, Wessex Archaeology and so on. If you look at the training and technology those people have, I am full of admiration for that. I remember when stuff used to fall out of the side of motorway trenches because there wasn’t anybody to dig it. There was no evaluation of what archaeology might be there or anything. It’s so important that’s changed.

The sad thing, I think, is despite the public interest in archaeology we don’t seem to be able to harness it. I don’t know why, because so much work does need doing. If every parish had a project like Winscombe going on not only would we learn a lot, but the spin-offs in terms of social cohesion and the involvement of people would be absolutely phenomenal. You need the big units to do the big projects – but there’s shed loads for everyone else too. There really is.

 

As CA thanked Mick and packed up its kit, he added a final thought.

MA:  A lot of what I’ve said here is very heartfelt, you know. It could get me into trouble. I’m too honest. I say what I think, not what I think I ought to say. It’s a great weakness really.


This interview was published in CA 271.

92 Comments

  1. As a disabled person, totally confined to my home, I found the format of the TimeTeam programme perfect.
    I loved everyone on it, – they became friends to me, – I enjoyed the banter and most importantly I learnt so much. It enabled me to pass on the information to my freinds and family.
    I was bitterley disappointed when they changed the people involved. They were all complimentary to each other. Why on earth change it? Ditching Mick Aston was despicable. Everlasting shame on you Channel 4.

    • Totally agree with you. I have always been interested in archeology/history, but i remember first time i watched Time Team on Discovery Channel.. Incredible fascinating. Thank you – Mick Aston, and the rest of the team for making this series.

  2. Hello Mick, I shall miss you very much on Sunday Afternoons, What was that saying my Apprentice Master kept saying, Oh yes “If it ain’t bust don’t fix it”. Channel 4 please note change is not always progress.

    KK

  3. Wow – great interview, but Mick you have left a legacy and that is all of the people (like me) who you inspired not only to take an interest but also to take it up as a new direction in life. I’m in my forties and I thought to myself if he can run around the country doing what he does then I can do it too! I threw in my office job and have been studying Archaeology in Australia for the last 3 years. That is your legacy – you can’t see it, but it is a field which is growing bigger everyday. Without the publicity for archaeology which is generated by people like you – less and less would be known, more of our breathtaking history lost, and much less funding over the past decade for projects which the public now see’s as important to our culture and identity.

    …It’s a much bigger picture than channel 4 will ever see – but that is their loss & now maybe you will have time to visit down under 🙂

    • Dear Jeanette, I hope this gets to you. I too feel the same way about Mick Aston and just adore the Time Team episodes. I have been thinking of doing an Archaeology course in Melbourne and wondered where you are based. Cheers. Pat

      • Hi Pat

        I’m sorry I did not see your post for such a long time. Poor old Mick has sinced passed away and life moves on for the rest of us. I am happy to answer any questions you have – feel free to email me at [email protected]

        Hopefully you took the leap of faith and took up study – I hear Uni of Melb has a great course.

        All the best

  4. It’s a shame that Mick thinks he hasn’t left a legacy. I would suggest that there are thousands of people who now have the bug.

    I was an armchair archaeologist and it was certainly true that Time Team was the cause. I watch the repeats over and over again, and this has given me a basic general knowledge of the theory and practice of the subject.

    As a result I got involved in the community project at Whitehall Farm Villa for 5 years, went on a flint-knapping course, and became a metal detectorist. My finds were recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme too.

    I suggest none of this would have happened without Time Team.

    I’m glad that the programme appears to be returning to its roots though. I hated the last series: cheesy and dumbed-down.

    I can understand why Mick has been hurt, but it seems the bitterness is eating him so it would be good for him to forgive and move on

    I for one am grateful for his cheery wisdom, so generously given

  5. Ditto – you have already left a legacy Mick inspiring muggles like me to embrace archaeology. I am a Surveyor and have spent my life looking at buildings. I’m now trying to find a way of getting in to building archaeology, mainly inspired by you! So thanks. Keep up the good work.

  6. I have a couple of photos of the Jim Gould dig which we were on at Wall, Mick. Many congratulations on your award!

  7. Hi Mick
    Firstly, in dealing with the issue of legacy, whilst you feel that you not have an immediate successor I would argue that every person who has watched Time Team will push the preservation of our history forward. The children watching you today will be the adults who make decisions in the future and your contribution should not be underestimated.
    Secondly C4 obviously could not find a shield boss in a trench with a metal detector if they think that they have changed the programme for the better. Just ask the viewers! I can only hope that common sense prevails, the participants jettisoned for the sake of “progress” are returned and that you also return to contribute both to our entertainment but more importantly to the education of so many people.

    I do thank you for the hours of pleasure you’ve given so many of us and hope that you find a way to return to our screens again as soon as possible.

  8. My daughter was inspired by time team to join YAC, fortunately very well run by a keen & experienced team locally. While she did A-level history, she is not persuing into uni level, she has wonderful memories of meetings & activities, not to mention encountering Mick on a couple of occasions (not YAC). Thank you for your enthusiasm Mock.

  9. professor mick, you, Phil harding and baldrick etc are time team…with out all of you its a wasted format….I can only hope that you return to TV teaching us all….the supporting team you have had working with you for years has made it brilliant teaching.we know you all as friends we have never met…thats good teaching !!! ..Even when a site wasnt a success you made us think about the what ifs what whens…we as viewers are the losers….as we have lost a valuble teacher…..i hope you return to us all soon…

  10. Great people, Great times. Many of us have had years of enjoyment watching you all.
    I am reminded of the old biblical adage that man shall not live by bread alone. I cannot recall how many times that I have said to my wife, O great, we can watch another Time Team again.
    Many thanks Mick.

  11. Mick, You will be surely missed I have watched time team since the beginning and not to see you and the old gang Phil Harding and Tony in particular pulling each others legs of where to dig who was right and who was wrong.You are a true gent and will be missed.hope to see you on TV again

  12. mick.

    your legacy survives you in the 200plus Time team programmes. You are and will remain an inspiration to people across the generations. keep going and get back on tv asap.

  13. Dear Mick,

    The brick is not the house… the atom not the clay… but some gems can still be found in the dirt that leave more than a lasting impression… they are our heritage.

    Love you.

    An ex-archaelogist.

  14. Mick, Tony, Phil and the rest of the team were informative and entertaining. They were the reason my wife and I watched Time Team. I perfectly understand Mick’s frustration at the changes Channel 4 made, but time and time again in TV we see the twisted adage “if it ain’t broke, lets break it”. Another good TV programme shot to hell by those who feel they must interfere. We wont be watching any new Time Teams.

  15. Mick, I’m in my mid 40’s now and only just discovered this amazing show this year. Every week I wait to see a new episode that our local channel (TVO) has purchased the rights to show us here in Canada. I even watch them on line when I need my fix! It is because of you, Phil, Tony and the others that I have become such a Time Team junkie. So it was with a sad heart that I found out, just today, that Time Team will be no more. Right now TVO only has up to season 18 so I haven’t seen the show fall appart. I wish they had more of the earlier shows so I could watch it all.

  16. I heard the news of Time Team’s demise before Christmas and feel very sad about this. Watching time team has been required viewing for my husband and I since the very first programme, Professor Aston – there will be a lasting legacy and that will be the love of history and archaeology that you and your colleagues have instilled in the minds and hearts of your viewers. THANK YOU!

  17. Mick, Phil & Tony will be sadly missed, your years of bringing history alive will stay with many people for the rest of their lives.
    Clarke Mooney Dec 1st 2012 sums it all up so well and says what many have thought for years.

  18. Does anyone know what happened to the individual or individuals behind the decision to change Time Team for the worse? Did they ever acknowledge their mistakes and apologise? Did their superiors in Channel 4 take any responsibility for allowing the poor judgement to prevail?
    If those concerned didn’t see that they got it badly wrong, and if they didn’t feel remorse about the way they treated Mick, then as Andy above says, they wouldn’t be able to find a shield boss in a trench with a metal detector; and they certainly won’t care what the majority of Time Team viewers feel. But then, what they lack in vision, they make up for in neck.
    For me, it’s not enough to thank Mick. I’d like the other half of the story, and to see that apology written large. And then perhaps everyone will be able to move on.

  19. How regrettable and disappointing! My husband and I are Time Team addicts, and have enjoyed all the shows and frequently watch re-runs. Even though we live in WESTERN AUSTRALIA, our interest in the archeology (hence the history, sociology and geography) that the Time Team has presented throughout the series has been unimaginably enlightning and educational. Fortunately we are still able to watch Time Team series on the Foxtel History channel. Thank you all at Time Team!

  20. I agree with Robert Newberry!
    We too watched from the beginning and have grown old (gracefully!)with Tony.We were amazed that anybody thought they could improve on what to us was the perfect program.Yesterday`s offering was better than nothing, but all of Phil`s good humour and Francis`s expertise could not conceal the lack of the old enthusiasm. Some of the old faces are still lurkiung in the picture, it would make sense for Channel 4 to realise what a good thing it still could have and eat a slice of humble pie!

  21. Mick, all I can say is thankyou. You have left a legacy and inspired me to set my eyes on going to Uni to study archaeology. Even though I live in Australia, I have gained a love for British archaeology through you, and I plan to study that further when I go to Uni. I will miss you, as I will miss all the time team. All the best to you all.

  22. Mike,

    You and the Time Team raised the profile of archaeology to the masses.
    Before this programme, it was viewed as some sort of obscure past time for academics!
    Now it is of interest to millions.

    A personal thank you.

  23. Time Team went of the boil wheni t slowly morphed into the Tony Robinson show, All he seemed to do in the later programs was stomp about moaning and groaning and whinging and making sarcastic comments whilst knowing bugger all about archeology, It will be a sad loss when it finally finishes

    • Yes Tony Robinson turned into the Project Manager from hell, as a software engineer have known a few of them. Could see a few people were getting fed up with him. especially the later episodes.

  24. We’re so sorry to be losing Time Team and all our favourite people, who have inspired and informed us over these years. You have left a great legacy with us and we wish you all the very best in the future.
    Thank you so much.

  25. To say you feel you haven’t left a legacy is saddening. You have personally inspired a generation (and I don’t mean inspired to wear stripey jumpers!) You should be very very proud of what you achieved and I’m glad you left when you did as series 19 was not great…!

  26. sheila Madge. Time team will not be the same without you. You will never lose your legacy because we who have been inspired by you will forever be passing it on to the following generations. The TV moguls have no life experiences to know a good thing when they have it in their hands, namely yourself and Phil Harding, true characters. Time team has given me hours of pleasure. Please come back A.S.A.P. I wish you health and peace for the future.
    I will miss you. Regards, Sheila Madge.

  27. I would just like to say a heartfelt thanks to Mick and the team for twenty years viewing pleasure. Whenever you would see them in the pub after a dig I would always think “I wish I was there”. A master piece of miscalculation by channel four.

  28. Mick thank you for geting me interested in archaelogy… I have never missed an episode of Time Team and was gutted when you decided to leave…. these people are idiots they don’t know a good thing when they have got it…..

  29. I have just spent a great couple of years as a volunteer in a museum repackaging the archaeological finds.
    Mick was a major source of my inspiration.
    He may feel that his legacy will not go forward but hopefully everyone he has inspired will, themselves, inspire others…….
    Heartfelt thanks
    Norma

  30. Sometimes it is very sad to have to part company with good friends, with people with whom you have grown to like over the years and felt accustomed and comfortable with, unlike you Mick I failed my 11+ but still left school in 68 but still able to have left with a good basic education.
    Over the years I helped out as a volunteer on a bird reserve, it started in 1984 and ended in 1999, fifteen years of quite hard work at times, yet when I finally hung up my wellies and bid farewell there wasn’t so much as a thank you or a handshake. I have learned over the years that whilst it is nice to reminisce, we have to look forward to the future, many people like myself would join in sharing this frustration you must feel Mick,but just stop and take stock of the immense contribution you have made to our understanding of British archaeology over the last twenty or so years, You have taught us all so very much, made the understanding easier to digest and allowed us all to share a little part of your world within a bigger picture making the hard bits easier and the easier bits even easier to understand, more importantly I’m sure your knowledge will continue to work its magic for a good many years to come, Ps you wouldn’t make a very good bird watcher, your clothes are too bright
    Best wishes to you and all your time team colleagues for making our days brighter
    Thank You

  31. Good on you Mick for not becoming just another “TV star.” Good for sticking to your principles. Time Team brought Archaeology to the front for those who had never considered being interested in the subject. I notice now that the captions which appear along with the people involved in the programme say “time team archaeologist or “time team finds expert” etc. As if the people were tied to the programme. It seems to lower their qualifications. There is, in my opinion, too much time spent on the programme re-creating tools etc. and less time on the methods of field work. As an amateur who has been involved in Archaeology since the late 1960s I enjoyed the first few series but noticed a decline in programme quality in the last few years. This was not due to the archaeologists but was due to altering the format to suit viewer figures. Channel 4 should count themselves lucky that there are a million people watching time team. A credit to the people in front of the camera and crew, rather than the policy makers. Well done and thanks for many years of bringing such an interesting subject to the public. I particularly enjoyed the very beginning when ordinary looking houses were revealed to be more interesting on the inside than the outside.

  32. My wife and I are very sad with the passing of Time Team. We looked forward to the Sunday afternoon slot and foud it very difficult to watch it regularly once the tv channel started tampering with it – no wonder the audience fell, thank goodnes for re runs. I think Mick aston and others have been treated very badly as they were the mainstays, Tony Robinson acting as the ‘amusing link’with the audience.
    I see, or saw, Time Team being to Archaeology as Sky at Night is to astronomy. At least professional Astronomers have had a different attitude than it seems Archeologists have if they hve not considered ‘professional’ enough ,how short sighted, afraid to come out of their ‘ivory towers’and get their hands dirty no doubt.
    I remeber seeing aprogramme on which the presenter was talking about a tv company having a meeting wherr he was and being told ‘no more archaeology’.
    OK it is probably getting expensive but I am sure those people involved like Mick, Phil and Jonh and Francis could have steered production people towards ways seemsan economical way of presenting ther Discipline. It often seems to ‘the public’who give their loyalty to these programmes, and Licence fees and other disposable income, that they treat us in a cavalier fashion. How many of the public were asked, o, sorry they probably did a’statistcal’ survey on a handful of ‘demographic’ who would have been disinterested anyway.
    To mick and any who lost their jobs you have left a legacy,to all those
    young people who have been inspired to get involved in archaeology, and
    those who retired and got involved in their local history projects , as by looking into the past we can see what influences have affected us to be where we are today, and hopefully we can take more care of tomorrow.

  33. Thank you Mick it’s been a wonderful program & just loved your enthusiasm . I have just watched a dig here in Tasmania & wished you were here as they uncovered walls of the original houses of settlement.oh the other thing is I love the jumper & hats.All the best.

  34. Mick, My family and I have enjoyed every minute, thanks to you and the team. You have opened up a world that most of us would never have had the opportunity to see..
    C4 have now pulled the plug, what a cock-up. I wonder how long it will be before one of their big wigs says “OOPS!”

  35. John Simpson, York. Time team was a great programme, and the only part I hated was the incessant babbling of Tony Robinson, interrupting professors and experts to give free reign to his lovey ego. The show gradually became the Tony Robinson show; he became the story instead of the messenger. He is a great presenter, but now nevershuts up talking, most of it attention-seeking twaddle. Iturned the programme over this AM because I found it too annoying.Idon’t blame professor Aston for saying “enough is enough”.

  36. I really wish I hadn’t read this now, as it’s spoiled Time Team for me. All I can think of is how much Tony annoys me now. I’d love to see Mick present his own documentaries with someone like the Discovery network. There is still so much to learn from such a worthy expert. Have a re-think Mick and put out some feelers for others who feel the same as you… please..?

    • Mick, and gang, I’ve just watched the last programme, greatest hits presented by TR, with minimal comments by archaeologists on an archeology programme, and am deeply saddened by Time Teams demise and the utter lack of foresight or intelligence by C4. Why feel compelled to mess with a successful format particularly without the subject matter experts. Did it never occur to them that those were the people we tuned in to watch. Not the presenter or the latter inclusions but the real archaeologists that had grown with the programme and viewers together!
      I have been enthralled by TT since its inception and today can lose myself in repeats on Sky. Fascinating, amusing, educating, frustrating and compulsive viewing. A joy to learn so much about our heritage not from just experts but people who have revelled in translating for the masses.
      It has been an incredible journey over the last 20 years and whilst it has come to a premature end I very much hope that someone will feel compelled to pick up the mantle and resurrect TT for our pleasure as well as the preservation of our heritage.
      I’d like to extend a personal thanks to Mick, and his colleagues (Phil, John, Carenza, Victor, Matt, Racksha, Helen et al) for their lasting contribution and am enjoying TTs discoveries all over again with my Grandson.

      Please do find a way back to our screens to continue the incredible contribution already made!

      Thanks and very best wishes for your future

      • i completely agree with this.the presenter was absolutely superfluous.

        please resurrect tie tean asap.

        thanks.

        chris savory

      • Though it may be of little consolation, there is an American version of Time Team now. Not as much history crowded together, even overlapping like in Europe like we are used to but it has some very interesting things going for it.

      • I’ve just heard the very sad news regarding Mick’s passing and, amongst the sense of loss of someone trusted with our heritage and invited into our homes through Time Team, am reminded of the adage “you don’t know what you had until its gone”
        As much as that’s true for all of us who appreciate Mick et al, Channel 4 should hang their heads in collective shame for the way they treated Mick, someone who valued archaeology above gloss, in the format of Time Team! Perhaps the reason is was dumbed down was so that Ch 4 programming commissioners and execs could understand it!

        Mick Aston was someone who valued our heritage and placed it at the forefront of all that he stood for as opposed to just filling gaps with pointless babble or thinking about how to “sex up” a perfectly good format and will be sadly missed. It’s a shame that TR was acknowledged recently for his work leaving, perhaps, one on the real custodians of our heritage unsung.

        Thanks Mick for all your work!

        May he excavate in peace and God bless him.

  37. having read Andy smiths comments above there is nothing else to say
    but just this last thing thank you time team for a wonderful prog. over the last 20 years it will be sadly missed

  38. Hello Mick. i simply loved TIME TEAM. I never wanted it to end – until they changed the format and people. After so many years of making sure I never missed an episode – following the changes I began to loose enthusiasm and interest. It wasn’t the same. So much had been lost by the changes. Who was the idiot who took the decision to make the changes? whoever it was they need to be sacked for their incompetence. I hope they are reading these comments and realizing their terrible mistake. The original team were all great characters and teachers in their own right – but there was another dimension – as a group you all just ‘jelled’ and sparked off one another – sharing a special kind of rapport and humor. After all, it was meant to be entertaining as well as informative. You and Phil always managed to cheer me up and make me smile or laugh.out loud on occasions. We are strangers but I feel I know you so well that I address you all and refer to you generally as”MICK” “PHIL” “CARENZA” “VICTOR” etc. .which speaks volumes about your collective abilities .to ‘connect’ with your audience. I cannot thank you all enough for the sheer pleasure you have given to me and my family over the years and especially to you Mick. I do hope that some sensible person recognizes your worth and puts you back on our screens again.very very soon. The very best of luck with all your current and future projects. I’ll be glued to my tv NOW WATCHING ALL THE RECORDED ORIGINAL TEAM PROGRAMMES. Say Hi to Phil if you see him and ask him how his foot wrestling training is coming along.!!! .

  39. Time Team with Tony Robinson, particularly your good self & Guy’s discussions on Roman Britain, was fundamental in informing my research into the live and times of Celtic Queen Boudicca. Last year I completed a workable draft of a musical based on her life called “Boudicca: First Britannia Queen.” I;m now looking for funding to get it off the ground. It was you and your team that inspired me!

  40. channel four has been going down hill for years, it coincides with the general dumbing down policy that is at present prevailing tv and seems deliberate policy ? probably political

  41. Professor, you and your Time Team colleagues have made a great contibution to the closing portion of my life.

    For 27 years I lived away from home for 5 days a week, and weekends were DIYing to keep the house together – no Time Team.

    I retired in September 2008, and Time Team arrived in my house. Now, I’m likely to drop off my perch within a year and can’t get about much, so I record every copy of TT which arrives on my Virgin TV, watch it on transmission and rewatch it at another time. I can’t join in a dig because I wasted my time working & supporting a family, but I can be fascinated by the programmmes I see.

    I hear criticism of Tony Robinson and he may be a hornet buzzing about, but he asks the “stupid” questions I might be too embarrassed to ask, clarifies what is going on for an ignoramous like me.

    If circumstances are as often reported, I shall return from the land beyond the veil, find the driving force behind that stupid decision to leave you out of the meeting, and torment him for the rest of his miserable life.

    Frank Croft

  42. I love Time Team, I watch all the repeats when I have time.
    Always hoped I could get them onto our farm to look for the hamlet mentioned here in the Doomsday Book, and the investigate the lines of humps and hollows in our woods

    • Hello Richard, have you looked at aerial photos of your land? That could be a starting point. English Heritage have a large collection also there is a site called Britain From The Air. Field walking could also provide evidence through small finds, such as pottery. Old records in your local Records Office may also help. In other words, there is a great deal you can do yourself. I have found sites through field walking myself. Also through aerial photos, especially if they are taken in dry seasons. Good luck.

  43. Mick, I have always had a keen interest in history but until Time Team came along I never had never given archaeology a second thought. You and the rest of the team made archaeology accessible and certainly stirred something in me. I wish you all the best for the future and thanks for the memories.

    Kevin Birkett
    Cork
    Ireland

  44. Thanks Mick for the eye-opening background to the destruction of Time Team by Channel 4. It’s ghastly ‘if it ain’t broke, then fix it till it is.’ A total lack of respect for what you’ve done delivered by corporate pinheads. The pleasure I’ve had personally out of the years of Time Team is immeasurable and, as others have said, felt almost like I knew everyone involved after enjoying their ‘company’ for so long. I’ll never forget the wondrous moment at the Athelney dig
    programme when the groundplan emerged….. I was hooked from then on.
    It all feels to me like another nail in the coffin of real education and learning, along with the demise of University Adult Education under the Labour Party/Tony Blair; until then I had access to quality to a lot of history, and some archaeology, courses, all of which have now gone. I’m not capable of undergraduate study anymore but I am still eager to watch and learn what I can and in the loss of Time Team another valuable real history resource has gone, along with all the experts, like yourself, who gave us so much of their time and knowledge.
    There are lots of us I’m sure who have been inspired and enthused by Time Team and I think detractors have an untenable position, completely; history is, or should be, a truly democratic exercise, not hidden away in academia for just a few professionals to claim as their own – and it has been amazing to see what ordinary people can achieve with expert guidance in Time Team – they get the point entirely that it is their history. A whole lot of people like me say ‘thank you’ for what you made happen.

  45. Professor Aston mentions in the interview that the archaeological world never really ran with Time Team, and I just want him to know that it’s not the whole archaeological world. Because of watching Time Team as a child, I took some archaeology courses in uni. For one research paper, I asked my professor if I could use the programme as a source for it, and he said that yes, Time Team was a reputable source and he would accept it if I cited it in my paper.

  46. Mick,thank you for time team,all that you taught us and for opening up this world of fascination most of us would not have otherwise discovered,and also thank you for just being you,for remaining down to earth and for sticking to your guns.you and the team will be missed in my living room.very much so .

  47. Hi Mick. You have been, through Time Team, a breath of fresh air in a world of morbid fasination with money and audience figures equalling corporate success.
    Time Teams success has been solely down to your own unselfish belief, that our archological past should be aired for the masses rather than a select few.
    In saluting you and Time Team, I wait for your reappearance on our screens.

    Channel 4. It’s time you woke up and realised that Mick and Time Team placed your channel in the Public Eye.

  48. How on earth could they (channel 4) have let Mick leave Time Team under those circumstances. being betrayed comes to mind. RIP Mick.

  49. The most inspirational man I have ever watched on TV
    He could make a shadow in the soil stand out and show you mud hut
    He will be greatly missed and his loss will leave the world of archaeology a poorer place

  50. So sad to hear of Mick Aston’s passing. We have lost an archeological legend, who brought his ‘digging’ to the masses by way of television. Just gutted as even though I didn’t know him, I felt as if I did. 🙁

  51. Rest in Peace Mick. Thank you for all the wonderful history you showed us. You opened our eyes – we are just very sorry you didn’t know it.

  52. My sympathies to Prof Aston’s family, friends and colleagues past and present. The World has lost a light. May he rest in peace (only to be excavated in a couple of centuries’ time ;-))

  53. What heartbreaking news of Mick’s passing, and when I heard the news this morning, I just couldn’t quite believe it and quiet tears flowed. What a lovely man, a decent and humble man, who was worth far more than his modesty would allow. Rest in peace Mick, and my prayers and best wishes to your family. As long as Time Team is remembered, you will also be remembered, and hopefully well beyond.
    Simon

  54. Thanks very much for your sharing your love of archeology with all of us. Rest in Peace Professor Mick Aston.

  55. What a top bloke, Prof Mick Aston has been a wonderful inspiration to me , a fellow black countryman for the past 19 years, i didn’t watch the last series.My sympathies to his family, rest in peace mate.

  56. Greatly saddened to hear of Professor Micks passing. Time Teams Professor Mick, Phil, Tony and the rest of the original cast have become like friends over the years. I started watching TT as young adult and my children grew up watching TT. You have created a legacy far greater than you ever thought possible. I live in Australia, a country with very limited archaelogical history. Professor Mick, Phil and Tony have inspired tens of thousands, if not millions of Australians to become intested not only in the archaeology in the ground where we live but in history itself. There will NEVER be another Professor Mick Aston…. archaelogy has lost a great man and we have lost a great friend. Rest in Peace.

    • I too am an Australian and have watched and managed to obtain nearly all the TT episodes since it started. I have visited the UK twice in my life, once on holidays and once for work reasons and I was fascinated with all the usual tourist architectural landmarks but was even more fascinated with the not so obvious ruins that I saw. It was not surprising to me that many people I met and who took these things for granted and thought I was nuts for being interested in even the simple things like just a stone wall which they see everyday. Sadly it is not confined to one nation Watching TT and the characters in it (even if they wore loud jumpers and hats) find and decipher the archaeology is and remains a genuine pleasure. I will miss the “ole fella” and hope his wishes, as stated in the interview come to fruition.

  57. It’s taken me a day to actually recognise that we will have no more Mick to smile at. To all his friends and family, sincerest wellwishes. RIP

    I was fortunate to be taught all I know about Archaeology by Mick when I attended one of his Continuing Education Courses in Landscape Archaeology at Bristol University in the early 1990’s. It was an education in itself! Mick was always able to make ANYTHING interesting: his enthusiasm and knowledge were shining beacons which led us ignorant students into the light of recognising a great teacher (and subject)!!

    We eventually did wheedle out of him his relationship with Time Team (this was early 1994) and promised faithfully to watch all the programmes, and give him feed-back on how he performed. (Of course, we were smitten anyway, so he could have gotten away with anything at that time!!)

    I have been faithful to that promise and watched every series; even the most recent where the archaeology was fairly minimal. If nothing else, yes, Time Team will go down as a memorial to Prof Mick Aston; but what many viewers have never realised is that the man with the grey fly-away hair and the garishly striped sweaters has left us, his STUDENTS, with precious memories of the man who was so alive with the love of history (and what to do with it) that he made us all smile all of the time! His enthusiasm and love infiltrated us all, so I suppose you could call us Mick Aston’s Legacy. 🙂

    • What a special thing to be able to author and a wonderful legacy left by Mick Aston. A man measurable by the huge gap left by his passing.
      I’m envious as I always hoped to go to something to listen to him speak but feel enriched by the pleasure imparted through TT

      Andy

  58. Your legacy is safe and sure Mick. I dont know anyone who has a bad or negative word to say about you + time team. archeology has come of age because of our work, talent, academic & emotional intelligence. you made archaeology understandable to everyone and allowed them to see their own history through you work. thank you Mick

  59. Thank you Prof Mick Aston for your wonderful contribution and legacy left to the world of archaeology. Your knowledge and insight inspired me to learn more about archaeology and history and for that I am grateful. As one of Australia’s many avid Team Time viewers I have spent many, many hours watching Mick and the Team reveal and explain great historical finds and treasures. Mick Astons calm voice, vast knowledge and experience always added and extra something to each show and showed us all how even the smallest find could play such a large part of ancient history. Like the bright stripey jumpers, you will be missed but never forgotten and will be an inspiration to those who will follow in your massive footsteps.

    Thank you for sharing your lifes work, Rest In Peace.

    Adrian Walter

  60. Thanks Mick for your great expertise and making digging for ‘old stuff’ into a great learning program. I shall miss your knowledge and honesty on Time Team. You made me want to learn more each day. Sadly missed Allan in Australia .

  61. I can not describe the grief I have felt since I heard of the passing of Mick Aston. He was a humble chap and was always giving. He was in the top 5 people who I would love to have had a pint with. There is no one to replace him, and as a country I think we have lost a unique curator of our heritage. Rest in Peace you old hippy, you will be missed by the many.

  62. Hey Mic, saddened is not enough to describe how I feel at your passing. As an academic myself, the first in my family to go to uni, certainly the first to do a phd, and approach teaching with the same gusto, I could relate to you. You remind me of so many I work with. A life very much cut short… Rock on in the halls of Valhalla…

  63. Sad that Channel 4 hierarchy couldn’t be bothered to put Time Team’s tribute programmes to Mick on the main channel rather than More4. We watched and enjoyed Time Team for many years, and it was disappointing to see the deterioration in the professional archeological input and the dumbing down which Mick refers to. Those responsible should be made to wear Mick’s characteristic knitwear in public every year on the anniversary of his resignation! Hopefully others will take Mick’s example and constructive criticisms to heart. That would be a fitting legacy for a man who has enriched understanding and appreciation of archaeology.

    We will greatly miss Mick and would extend our sympathies to Mick’s family and friends.

  64. Like many I have watched TT since its first showing & have enjoyed every minute of it. I was therefore greatly saddened to hear of Mick’s passing. There is little to be added to the comments made by many of his fans. He was clearly a very understated, knowledgable & inspiring man that certain others should have spent more time listening to. Probably the most distressing thought is that Mike went to his grave thinking that he didn’t make a significant impact on those he met in life (& by that I include us the audience). Mick you always inspired those you interacted with in whatever form that took. I am sure that your family are very proud of you & hope that they can see from everyone’s comments the legacy you left behind. God bless you.

    Nick from Leicester

  65. From Colin Airdrie in Bangkok. I have been living in Asia for over 17 years and am writing this watching the excavation of a stone age site on the Sussex Downs. I love the series and it does me so much good to see the wonderful British countryside and the history underneath it. Other countries might claim longer histories, but it seems in Britain, we it is so close to us and Time Team brings it closer. Thanks to the whole Time Team, current and past, and RIP Mick. May you be excavated with feeling in the centuries to come.

  66. I only found out about Mick’s passing a week ago, and have been in a daze for the last week, I would have flown from New Zealand to the UK to attend his funeral had I known. He really was the back bone of the Time Team programme and from what I have read he was treated very badly by Channel 4, they should be ashamed. We get the re-runs here on History channel and I watch them almost every day, a bit of an addict really but I always get something new out of each episode, and every now and then I see an episode I have not seen before because History channel here runs them out of any form of order. Good Bye Mick and thanks for all your fine work over the years- you will be missed by millions across the globe.

    David Thexton- New Zealand

  67. We have watched time team for many years in the beginning living in the UK and over the last ten years watching the programme on the History channel here in Perth Western Australia. What a winning Time Team it was with Mick at the helm with Tony and Phil, Carenza, and the Stuarts doing their thing walking and geofis what professional people you all are we have enjoyed the knowledge and history you have brought into our lounge. Its a programme that has shown the world our past and the committed archaeologists with warm personalities. Time team will continue to be watched in our house and when out walking we will always be aware of what archaeology might be just under where we walk.Thank you Mick and the team you have shared a wealth of knowledge with us. Thank you.

  68. Mick,
    from down under, I wish to thank both you and your team for a fantastic look at our history, ( English father from Lancashire/ Yorkshire) I suspect as others have said, you don’t know who you may have influenced to take on this fascinating profession of the brush and trowel in the years to come.
    Down under we have seen most of you series over the years and is has been a much loved favourite in our household. As far as the intellectual snobbery goes, I guess in academia you will always have the nay sayers. My guess is a lot of prep work went on prior to the digs, and a lot of subsequent work after the cameras were gone, carried on by the local archeologists.

    Thank you all again

    Gordon Hazel

  69. Many thanx for hours of comfort and interesting stories whilst I am at my desk. Never forget this great team of ‘real’ people. My feeling is that the powers will shut it down for a couple of years and hire a new team just like they wanted to in 2012…they have their own ways of skinning cats

  70. I was lucky enough to meet Mick at Waterstones in Birmingham when he was signing copies of his book “Mick’s Archaeology”. He was such a genuine person and interested in whatever one had to say. I told him how I have been very lucky to have been a volunteer with Herefordshire Archaeology on a number of their digs following the TT dig, “In search of Offa’s Palace”. He was really interested in what I had been able to do with them. Herefordshire Archaeology have always been very encouraging to volunteers, always ready to explain how to do things. On my first dig at Sutton St. Nicholas I started as a complete novice barrowing soil and ended the week helping to draw the plan of the trench that I had been excavating. Unfortunately Herefordshire Council have decimated the archaeology department his year (2014) because of having to save money so such opportunities will be limited now.

  71. Hi, it’s November 2014 and I only knew that Mick died a few days ago. I am watching re-runs of Time Team and remembering why I loved them the first time around. Mick was a great guy whose personality shone on television. It’s terribly sad that he died just when he should have been taking some time off.

    I’ll never forget his jumpers and his hair! Unique.

    Adrienne.

  72. Time Team was part of all of our lives with an interest in archaeology. My kids were born and grew up while the show was on and it gave immense pleasure to myself and others due to the fantastic characters in the team and the multitude of varied sites from different historical periods.
    Mick, Phil, Stuart, John, Carenza, Robin Bush, Matt, Helen, Victor, Bridgette, Francis and many others were such a warm and knowledgable group of people to welcome into your living room I feel terrifically nostalgic about the show as I type this.
    Thanks to the team for the greatest educational series in the history of television which I doubt will ever be surpassed.
    Mick’s legacy is immense and as with the amazing Robin Bush (and Phil, still with us) they are personal heroes of mine and will not be forgotten by anyone with a love of human warmth and learning.

  73. I was fortunate enough to have been involved in a time team dig and rub shoulders with Mick. As a great fan of the series it was a dream come true. I often wished I had plucked up the courage to talk to him. I know he would have been generous. It was just so good to see that the series was genuine and not one bit contrived. The series has given me an enduring hobby which has opened up the countryside around my home and as I approach retirement something that will continue to give great pleasure.

    I know Mick loved the thought of Monastic life. He had a kind of solitude about him. He continues to be missed as we watch re runs of that great series.

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