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Archaeological Memories

Archaeological Memories
26 Jul 2019

As with most people of my generation, my first experience of real-life archaeology was the Channel 4 series Time Team. This will always be remembered by me as essential post Sunday roast dinner viewing at my mum’s, watched by all the family, in their various states of post food stupor. 

We all watched as cantankerous Phil (Field Archaeologist Phil Harding) bellowed at various people for stepping uninvited into “his” trench, inquisitive Stewart (Archaeological Investigator Stewart Ainsworth) walking the land looking for any “lumps and bumps” hidden in the undergrowth before comparing them with old historical maps and documents, methodical John (Archaeological Geophysicist John Gater) who painstakingly paced up and down the site with his field equipment creating a map of the underground unseen features, usually allowing him the pleasure of telling Phil where he should have actually placed the first trench rather than just guessing at the start and finding nothing but soil.

These and many more experts and trainees were kept in line by the wild haired, stripy-jumpered lead Archaeologist Professor Mick Aston and all hosted by always the eager to learn, Tony Robinson, who was more famous for playing everyone’s favourite fictional historical character Baldrick in the comedy series Blackadder.

We would all watch, and slowly become armchair experts as the team showed in detail how a slight change in soil colour showed that a Stone-Age roundhouse once stood on the site or the tiny piece of clay pot proved beyond doubt that a previously unknown Roman Villa stood proudly on the hill in question!

The passion, enthusiasm and excitement shown by everyone involved was infectious, and as the site slowly revealed its secrets the team would appraise and then finally reconstruct for the viewer the site in all their former glory.

Although cancelled in 2014, the show ran for 20 years and has been credited with promoting archaeology in the UK by English Heritage, inspiring future generations to study, practice and teach archaeology around the world.

It must have had a lasting effect on our family as my wife Kim and I now own a company creating, developing and selling History resources to teach and inspire yet another generation, and my elder brother runs a Geospatial Surveying company and has lead teams surveying Scottish Castles, English Abbeys and sites of national historical interest all over the British Isles, including a commissioned 3D Digital scan of Stonehenge, recording and archiving this UNESCO site in great detail. Click here to read the case study on Stone Henge.

Michael, Wildgoose Education.


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