Mick Aston

Legacy of archaeologist Mick Aston to enhance community engagement at Ipplepen

The College of Humanities has received a generous legacy donation from the late archaeologist Professor Michael Antony "Mick" Aston, to benefit its Archaeology department.

Mick Aston (1 July 1946 – 24 June 2013) has left £8,000 to the Department of Archaeology at the University of Exeter following his death at the age of 66. Mick was a passionate advocate for the widespread availability of academic research in archaeology. Professor of Landscape Archaeology at the University of Bristol, Mick Aston helped to maximise the popularity of archaeology through his role as the resident archaeologist on Channel Four’s series Time Team, from 1994 to 2011.

The Archaeology Department has stated that the bequest will be used to enhance community engagement with the long-term research project investigating a late prehistoric, Romano-British, and early medieval settlement at Ipplepen, near Newton Abbot, in Devon. Part of this project is an annual Field School, which provides students and members of the local community with the opportunity to undertake training in archaeological excavation free of charge.

Stephen Rippon, Professor of Landscape Archaeology at the University of Exeter and friend of Mick Aston, said:  “The University of Exeter has a strong commitment to community engagement in its work, and Mick’s generous bequest will allow us to continue to provide places for local people on our training excavation at Ipplepen, and enable us to provide proper supervision for those local volunteers.”

He added: “Mick always had a strong commitment to community archaeology, and his long-term projects at Shapwick and Winscombe in Somerset are a model for how local people can become involved in university-based research.”

Mick Aston began his academic career at the University of Oxford, eventually moving to the University of Bristol where he remained, latterly as Emeritus Professor, from 1996 until 2004. He was widely published, with his most well-known volumes including Interpreting the English Village (2013), The Shapwick Project, Somerset (2007), Interpreting the Landscape (1985), and Archaeology is Rubbish (2002, with Time Team presenter Sir Tony Robinson). In recent years, Mick had led a team of volunteers researching the landscape history of his home village of Winscombe in Somerset.

Mick Aston was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1976 and of the Royal Geographical Society in 2010. From 2004 Mick was Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Exeter. He undertook teaching and postgraduate supervision and in 2012 Mick volunteered his time to visit the College of Humanities at the Archaeology Careers Fair, where he met current students and gave them advice on forging a career in the sector. In that same year, he received a lifetime achievement award at the British Archaeological Awards.

To find out more about the life and work of Professor Mick Aston, please visit The Guardian. To find out about Ipplepen’s annual Field school, please visit our Ipplepen webpages.

Date: 16 March 2015

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