A couple of weeks ago there was an archaeological dig in our village and I went along to watch, learn and volunteer. Phil Harding, a member of the TV series Time Team was the lead archaeologist and it was a real privilege to watch him work, ask him questions, and listen to his stories and advice and instruction he gave.
Although the archaeology of the little ruined church where the dig took place was the most important and fascinating aspect of the week, it was also very interesting to hear Phil talk about Time Team. It was first broadcast in 1993 and I watched all of the following twenty series, it was one of my favourite programmes. One the most popular aspects of the programme was the relationship between the different experts in the programme, the diggers, the surveyors, the landscape investigators, the geophysicists, the presenter… It was what made the programme so popular, the way they would discus,, argue, disagree, all in the most friendly way, but all in order to find the truth about what they were uncovering. it was a TV programme, yes, but it seemed very much like what might happen on any other dig. So when Phil stopped digging in our little church, paused to chat for a moment and told us about what actually happened in the programme, it was great to discover that the people we viewers felt we knew so well, actually were very much as they seemed on camera.
As well as the various stories he told, Phil very proudly showed us his spade. It was a long-handled tool with a leaf-shaped blade, and he told us it had belonged to the lead archaeologist for most of the programmes, Professor Mick Aston, who sadly died two years ago. When Mick died very unexpectedly, his widow gave the spade to Time Team, and it was decided that Phil should have it. He was obviously very touched by this, and felt honoured, and would treasure and use it as he was now. On the back of the handle Mick had carved his mark, Mix (Mick’s)
The report in our local paper: