For those of us who perpetually watch Time Team repeats on Dave and More4, it may not feel like the show ever went away, but four years is a long time. I missed them! And, I wanted the gossip about what they’re doing now, of course. Who better to kick off our interview series with than the cheeky Matt Williams.
Matt has been an archaeologist since the late 90s. He completed his undergraduate and Master’s degrees at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London before embarking on a career in commercial archaeology. He worked for several commercial units including Oxford Archaeology and MoLAS (as was), until he started a career at L-P Archaeology.
In 2003, Matt was recruited as an archaeologist and presenter on Time Team. His sharp, charming wit and fresh-faced boyish looks made him the prime target for the historical re-enactment spots on the show. Matt has dressed up and lived the life of a Roman soldier, Medieval lay-brother and even home-guard infantry, to name a few. But my personal favourite was when he was my Roman slave for an afternoon – just don’t EVER get him to comb your hair though… OUCH!!
Matt now co-presents ‘Digging for Britain’ with Alice Roberts, and the new series will be starting in 2016 on BBC Four. Now, onto the questions!
I carried on with my job of commercial archaeology, which I had also continued between TT shoots and between each series. This involves helping people get planning permission and organising excavations if there are archaeological remains on development sites.
Still doing it! Although a couple of years ago I started co-presenting ‘Digging for Britain’ with Alice Roberts. This involves several days filming in museums around the country and then a few days in a studio interviewing archaeologists.
Sometimes ridiculously, incredibly, unbelievably hard work can be fun! I also know the Marriott Hotel room service menu off by heart.
Spending two days drunk when living the life of a navvy at Rise Hill. All in the name of experimental archaeology!
The worst hangover in the world after spending two days drunk when living the life of a navvy at Rise Hill.
I know a lot of of the team would say this, but it has to be when Jimmy Adcock and Kerry Ely made a fake magnetometer out of cardboard and then got Ian to drive over it in his machine when John Gater was watching. The amount of effort and planning that went into the whole event was incredible.
This one’s easy… it’s the Ogham inscribed stone I found on the Isle of Man. Most Ogham is carefully inscribed on standing stones and records important people, but the bit I found was almost like a note scrawled on a fragment of rock and seemed to record a group of people arriving in a boat, which is extremely rare. I remember Helen Geake coming up to me and saying something like: ‘That’s it Matt, that’s the find of your life. The chance of you finding anything as archaeologically important as that ever again is basically zero.’
Well I don’t think the DigVentures website gives the answer, so it’s just going to have to remain a Time Team mystery…. I like to think of us as the Scott and Charlene of the archaeology world.
I live in Shropshire, and there’s nothing I love more than pulling on my boots and dragging the family out for a good long walk. There’s loads of amazing places to visit such as Oswestry Hill fort, the Stiper Stones, Wenlock Priory… hmm, does that still count as archaeology?
Digging for Britain, of course!
We saw some amazing underwater archaeology on Digging for Britain, which really demonstrated how our ability to excavate and record underwater sites has improved in recent years. There must be thousands of waterlogged prehistoric sites in the North Sea (dating from when the sea level was much lower) and finding and recording just one site would be amazing.
I’d love to see some real-time archaeological excavation back on TV, and hopefully be involved in some way!
I’d get the The Goonies cast back together for that.
DigVentures crowdfunds archaeological projects that everyone can be part of, in the UK and overseas. With help from people all over the world, we investigate the past and publish our discoveries online for free. Become a DigVentures Subscriber and be part of great archaeology - all year round!Subscribe