Phil Harding (archaeologist) : biography
Philip 'Phil' Harding, FSA (born 25 January 1950) is a British field archaeologist. He has become a familiar face on the Channel 4 television series Time Team. Trained on excavations with the Bristol University Extra Mural Department and other bodies from 1966, he has been a professional archaeologist since 1971.
Life and career
Born in Oxford in 1950, but brought up in Wiltshire, Phil Harding was educated at Marlborough Royal Free Grammar School in Marlborough. As a young boy, Harding became fascinated with the Stone Age period, and it was then he learned flint-knapping from his uncle Fred, and within only a few months became a skilled knapper, crafting many different hunting tools from pieces of flint. He also made his first archaeological finds digging up his parents' garden, much to the annoyance of his mother Elsie. In 1966, while still at school, he attended a training excavation by Bristol University Extra Mural Department in Fyfield and West Overton. Since then he has dug every year, though at first his archaeological activities had to be fitted into holidays and any spare time.
Harding lives in Salisbury, Wiltshire. Also a keen guitarist, he regularly jams with other musicians in the Wiltshire area. He speaks in a broad West Country accent. He always wears a hat with a feather in it. He also regularly watches local football team Salisbury City FC.
After he left school, he worked in a puppet factory in Marlborough, until he became a full-time archaeologist in 1971. He worked initially for the Southampton City Council Archaeology Unit, combining this with five seasons of excavations run by the British Museum at the Neolithic flint mines of Grimes Graves, Norfolk. He has since become an acknowledged expert on flint-knapping and is skilled in lithic reduction using both percussive techniques and 'pressure flaking', where instead of striking the flint with blows, pressure is exerted on the edges to shape the tool. In 1981 Phil was rushed to hospital when a chip of flint ended up in his left eye when he was working on a flint axe. Surgeons managed to remove the small sliver of flint and he was allowed back home two days later.
From the mid-1970s he worked on excavations in Berkshire, Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and the Isle of Wight for the Department of the Environment. In 1979 the archaeological section of the DOE for the region became Wessex Archaeology, a non-profit organisation which is one of the biggest archaeological practices in the country. He continues to work for Wessex Archaeology when not filming. Harding has been a member of the Institute of Field Archaeologists since 1985, and in 2006 he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. On 24 July 2008, he received an honorary Doctorate from the University of Southampton. As a qualified SCUBA diver he is the President of the Nautical Archaeology Society, a Portsmouth based charity formed to further interest in nautical cultural heritage.
Harding won the Henry Stopes Memorial Medal of the Geologists' Association in 2012. The Medal is awarded once in every 3 years for work on the Prehistory of Man. He was voted 'Archaeologist of the Year' in March 2013 by readers of Current Archaeology Magazine.
In 1991 Harding took part in the series Time Signs, which was produced by Tim Taylor, who went on to create Channel 4's popular archaeology series Time Team. Harding has been a regular on Time Team from the first series in 1994 to the present, also taking part in the various 'spin-off' series such as Time Team Extra (1998), Time Team Digs (2002) and Time Team Live. In addition, he has appeared in episodes of Meet the Ancestors (2003) and Chris Moyles' Quiz Night (2009).
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