Mick Aston

From Academic Kids

Professor Michael Aston (born 1946) has become a familiar face on the Channel 4 television series Time Team. He is a passionate educator and populariser of archaeology, known to the viewing public for his colourful sweaters.

Prof. Aston, who prefers to be known as Mick, was born in the English Black Country and studied geography at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. At the same time he pursued his interest in archaeology both academically and through fieldwork, finding his vocation as a landscape archaeologist.

While researching for a higher degree he taught at the Extra-Mural Department of the University of Birmingham. This proved to be the start of a long career in further education. When he moved to Oxfordshire to take up a post at the Oxford City and County Museum, he taught many extra-mural classes for Oxford University. From there he moved to Taunton to become the first County Archaeologist for Somerset. Again he taught extra-mural classes, this time for the University of Bristol. So it was a natural progression for him to become in 1978 a full-time tutor in local studies at the Oxford University External Studies Department. Then in 1979 he returned to the West Country as tutor in archaeology at the University of Bristol Extra-Mural Department. He was awarded a personal chair at Bristol University in 1996. When he retired in 2004, he became an emeritus professor at Bristol University.

While at Oxford he had a long-running radio series on Radio Oxford. He sees the mass media as an extension of extra-mural classes. In 1988 producer Tim Taylor invited him to work on a series of four programmes for Channel 4 called Time Signs, broadcast in 1991. Together Taylor and Aston devised the format for Time Team, first broadcast in 1994. Prof. Aston has acted as chief archaeological advisor to the programme ever since.

Prof. Aston has published many works, particularly on landscape archaeology and monasteries. His professional autobiography, Mick's Archaeology (2000) is the source for this article.

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