Phil Harding (archaeologist)

Philip Harding DL FSA (born 25 January 1950) is a British field archaeologist. He has become a familiar face on the Channel 4 television series Time Team. Harding trained on various excavations with the Bristol University Extra Mural Department and other bodies from 1966; he has been a professional archaeologist since 1971.

Phil Harding
Phil Harding Sifting for flint near A46.jpg
Phil Harding sifting for flint in 2009
Philip Harding

(1950-01-25) 25 January 1950 (age 70)
Years active1971–present
Known forTime Team

Life and careerEdit

Early lifeEdit

Born in Oxford on 25 January 1950 and brought up in Wexcombe,[1] Wiltshire, Phil Harding was educated at Marlborough Royal Free Grammar School in Marlborough. As a young boy, Harding became fascinated with the Stone Age. He learned flint-knapping from his Uncle Fred, and in only a few months became a skilled knapper, crafting many different hunting tools from pieces of flint. He 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.


After Harding 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 (1972-1976) 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, in which instead of striking the flint with blows, pressure is exerted on the edges to shape the tool.

From the mid-1970s he worked on excavations in Berkshire, Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and the Isle of Wight for the Department of the Environment (DOE). 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 was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.[2] On 24 July 2008 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Southampton in archaeology.[3] 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 three years for work on the Prehistory of Man.[4] He was voted Archaeologist of the Year in March 2013 by readers of Current Archaeology magazine.[5]


Phil Harding (wearing hat) with John Gater filming Time Team

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 was a regular on Time Team from the first series in 1994 until its cancellation in 2013. He also took 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).[6]

He appeared in an episode of BBC's Digging for Britain in December 2016.


  1. ^ Kerton, Nigel (4 September 2009). "C4's Time Team dig in at Mildenhall". Gazette & Herald. Trowbridge. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  2. ^ "List of Fellows". Society of Antiquaries London. 2013. Archived from the original on 4 October 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  3. ^ "Phil Harding awarded honorary degree". Wessex Archaeology. 16 July 2008. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  4. ^ "GA Prizes and Medals". Geologists Association. 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  5. ^ Hilts, Carly (5 March 2013). "Time Team archaeologist Phil Harding wins Current Archaeology's prestigious Archaeologist of the Year award for 2013". Current Archaeology. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  6. ^ "Phil Harding". Internet Movie Database. 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2013.

External linksEdit