Mick Aston : biography
Michael Antony "Mick" Aston, FSA (1 July 1946 – 24 June 2013) was an English archaeologist. As an academic, he taught at a number of universities across the United Kingdom, and helped popularise the discipline amongst the British public by appearing as the resident academic on the Channel 4 television series Time Team from 1994 to 2011. Through the series, Aston became well-known to the viewing public for his trademark colourful jumpers and flowing, untidy hairstyle.Eggington 2008. He also published a number of books on the subject of archaeology, some of which were written for an academic audience, and others for the general public.
Early in his career, Aston worked for Oxford City and County Museum and later became the first County Archaeologist for Somerset. He taught classes at the University of Birmingham, University of Oxford and the University of Bristol. With the television producer Tim Taylor, Aston began to work on creating shows that would bring archaeology into popular consciousness, being involved in the creation of the short lived Time Signs (1991), which was followed by the far more successful Time Team, which began airing in 1994 and is scheduled to end in 2014. He retired from his university posts in 2004, but continued working on Time Team and commenced writing regular articles for British Archaeology magazine.
Aston specialised in landscape archaeology, focusing on the study of British landscapes in the Early Mediaeval period (circa 400 to 1200 CE). He had a particular research interest in the archaeology of towns and monastic sites from this period.Aston 1998.University of Bristol 2002–2011. As site director, he also undertook a ten year project investigating the manor at Shapwick, Somerset.
Born into a working-class family in Oldbury, West Midlands, Aston attended Oldbury Grammar School. He studied geography at the University of Birmingham before going on to become a professional archaeologist and gaining further degrees in the subject. At the same time he pursued his interest in archaeology both academically and through fieldwork, finding his vocation as a landscape archaeologist.M. Aston, Mick's Archaeology (2000)
While researching for a higher degree, Aston taught at the Extra-Mural Department of the University of Birmingham. When he moved to Oxfordshire to take up a post at the Oxford City and County Museum, he taught many extramural classes for the University of Oxford. From there he moved to Taunton to become the first County Archaeologist for Somerset. Again he taught extramural classes, this time for the University of Bristol. In 1978 he became 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 Aston retired in 2004, he became an emeritus professor at Bristol University, and an honorary visiting professor at the University of Exeter and the University of Durham. In the same year he was awarded an Honorary D.Litt by the University of Winchester, formerly King Alfred's College. He had long been associated with this college as an external examiner. The archaeology students of King Alfred's also participated in a 10-year project led by Aston to investigate the manor of Shapwick in Somerset. He received an honorary degree from Worcester University on 31 October 2007. His academic colleagues have contributed to a festschrift in his honour, published in 2007.Festschrift: People and places : essays in honour of Mick Aston / edited by Michael Cotsen. Oxford : Oxbow, 2007. ISBN 1842172514 Following his retirement from academia, Aston continued to return to the universities at Exeter, Durham and Bristol to do occasional teaching.Aston 2010.
Aston published many works, particularly on landscape archaeology and monasteries. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1976 and was the 21st member of the Institute of Field Archaeologists. In July 2012 he received a lifetime achievement award at the British Archaeological Awards.
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