Time Time is currently recording their 20th series. There is no doubt that the program has been a phenomenal success. And yet it has its detractors, many saying that “proper archaeology can’t be done in 3 days”. But it remains a simple fact that Time Team has probably published more (significant) dig results in the last few years than any other archaeological unit in the country. That’s one tangible benefit, but not the end of the story…
As many of our readers will know, Mick Aston has left the show. Mick was the Lead Archaeologist on the digs, the Project Leader. In the latest series Mick has been ‘replaced’ by Francis Pryor, another Time Team regular. Francis has decided to blog about his experiences on the show, and his blog makes for very interesting reading, giving an insight into the show and the archaeological philosophies behind it. A recent post, for instance, pointed out that publication of the dig results in many cases is just the beginning:
The programme we’ve just finished was centred on an Iron Age hillfort. Very little was known about it. It was also very large and elaborate, but somehow had never been investigated, not even by those nosey local vicars of Victorian times. So the first thing we did was call in our friends from geofizz. It struck me, as I watched John Gator’s team stride up and down their carefully surveyed gridlines, come rain or shine, that in actual fact Time Team is a geophysics show. Because by far and away our biggest legacy to the group of keen local volunteers, who’d invited us over to work on their prize local site, wasn’t the few trenches we were able to open in our three days with them. No, our biggest gift to them was the detailed map of thousands of features still lying buried beneath the soil. That map was worth more than its weight in gold to the group who’d called us in. It would fuel research for decades to come. That research would also help to bind the local community together during the years of economic down-turn that are now staring us all in the face.
Those last two sentences really are pure gold. The potential for a future, ongoing research project, ‘binding’ the local community, arguably at a time when it’s most needed.
Now that’s a real tangible benefit!