Currently Senior Archaeologist for English Heritage, and winner of the Archaeologist of the Year 2012 at the prestigious Current Archaeology Awards earlier this year, Tony Wilmott is one of the leading authorities on Hadrian’s Wall and the amphitheatres of Roman Britain. Specialising in the Roman and Medieval periods, he has recently excavated at Birdoswald, Chester, and Richborough. His work at Maryport, where he was site director, shed new light on the magnificent set of altars dedicated to the god Jupiter found there, and was reported in CA 259. Tony is also a member of the Institute for Archaeologists and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.
Which archaeological achievement are you proudest of?
Without doubt, the discovery at Birdoswald fort of the timber buildings of the immediate post-Roman period, which allowed the period to be examined in a more informed light. Standing on top of the farmhouse tower, looking down and recognising the rectangle of a huge timber building was a great feeling.
What was your archaeological moment of the year?
Finding that the Maryport Roman altars had been reused as packing in the post-pits of a huge late-Roman timber building (CA 259). This blew received ideas about reverent ritual burial out of the water. Overturning established ideas by further excavation is a real highlight in any archaeological life.
How do you view the future of archaeology?
Now is a time when the various branches of archaeology — academic, public, commercial, and amateur — need to take a long hard look at how they can co-operate. There are encouraging signs of this and some good models to follow.
Tony Wilmott won the Archaeologist of the Year 2012 award at the prestigious Current Archaeology awards, announced earlier this year during an evening reception at the Current Archaeology Live! 2012 conference at Senate House, London.
Tony made the following comments on receiving the award:
“Thank you, Current Archaeology, for nominating me for this award – it was a bright spot at the end pf a very difficult year. I’m accepting this award on behalf of all people working in public service archaeology — and I’m also delighted to be the second Sheffield Wednesday supporter (along with Clive Waddington) to be collecting an award tonight.
“I have been in this game for a long time — it has been over 40 years since I first lifted a trowel. My school history teacher first introduced me to Current Archaeology magazine and it was them that got me into archaeology in the first place.
“But how do you define ‘Archaeologist of the year’? There are so many more people who are equally or more deserving of this award than me. I have known Martin Carver for years — in fact, he was my mentor during my Birmingham University days. And Mike Heyworth’s radio interview with Councillor Melton was one of the highlights of my archaeological year. After being in fieldwork for over 4 decades I realise the importance of getting information out there — such as Martin Carver with Antiquity or the work of CBA. The difference is that excavation is particularly visible.”
Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, added: “One of our best — well done Tony.”
We recently interviewed Simon Thurley on challenges facing the heritage sector, and the draft National Planning Framework. To read the full interview, click here.