BREAKING NEWS: Time Team is coming back!

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Time Team announces historic comeback with 2021 dig at huge Oxfordshire Roman villa that may be ‘almost the size of Buckingham Palace’.

Following the successful launch of a fan-led Patreon campaign in December, Time Team has now confirmed what could be the first of many digs. Series Producer and creator of Time Team, Tim Taylor says, “They did it! We’re back thanks to the overwhelming support of our fans!”

With 1.5 million views a month on the Time Team Classics YouTube channel in 41 countries worldwide, the new programs will premiere on YouTube, with additional behind-the-scenes content on the platform Patreon. This will give viewers the chance to engage as the shows are researched and developed, see live blogs during filming, watch virtual reality landscape data at home and join in Q&As with the team. Carenza Lewis, Stewart Ainsworth, Helen Geake and geophys genius John Gater will all be returning and are excited about the new sites. 

The villa is a tantalising prospect – a grand building almost as big as Buckingham Palace. It is located on the Broughton Estate in Oxfordshire, belonging to the Fiennes family. The site, discovered by historian and metal detectorist Keith Westcott after years of research, could be one of the biggest villas uncovered in recent times. “As our first dig back, we were keen on a site that would produce amazing evidence, showcase the very best that Time Team can offer, and allows us to demonstrate to the full the latest technology like LiDAR and GPR,” says Taylor. “With a fantastic team backed by Keith Westcott and Martin Fiennes, local community support, the possibility of an ongoing legacy, and the guarantee of great archaeology, Broughton Castle ticks all the boxes!”

Taylor continues: “The Broughton villa promises to be one of the finest examples in Britain. There may be mosaics, a bathhouse and perhaps even temples. Our investigation of the villa and the landscape it occupies will aim to preserve and enrich our understanding of the past and the people who inhabited it. But, as always with Time Team, the adventure is in the discovery of the secrets of the past, whatever they are!”

Landowner Martin Fiennes – a cousin of actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes, and explorer Sir Ranulph – says: “We’re delighted to welcome Time Team to Broughton. The site is of national importance and we couldn’t hope for a better team to help uncover its secrets.”

Time Team’s return has had the backing of many celebrity fans, from Sir Michael Morpurgo and Bernard Cornwell to Philippa Gregory, Kate Mosse and Ken Follett. Working with the Fiennes family brought home the connection with Sutton Hoo and Ralph Fiennes’ character, Basil Brown in the recent Netflix film, The Dig. Taylor says, “It would have been great to show Basil Brown the new technology, which enables us to see 3D images of the archaeology underground, allowing us to precisely target our excavation.”

Taylor continues: “This dig signals the start of a fascinating new chapter for Time Team. We have several equally exciting sites lined up that we hope to investigate with support from our fans on Patreon.” 

Already Patreon supporters have rallied behind another fantastic site – a mysterious Iron Age settlement with underground passages in Cornwall. “We are aiming to reach our target of at least 5,000 patrons by the end of March and we’ll then be in position to dig at least one other site – the Iron Age settlement – this year and carry out preliminary research on others.”

“Our goal is to create a legacy for these sites,” says Taylor, “building ongoing relationships with local communities and archaeologists that continue to yield fresh insights. Through understanding and helping to preserve the past, and sharing it with a worldwide audience, we hope to re-engage with the enthusiasm that so many of our fans have shown over the years.”

Many of the original team are already involved, both on and off screen. They will be joined by new faces representing the breadth of experts practising archaeology today. Sir Tony Robinson, who is an honorary patron, says: “I was delighted to hear about the plans for the next chapter in Time Team’s story. It’s an opportunity to find new voices and should help launch a new generation of archaeologists, under the guidance and watchful eye of Mr Taylor! While I won’t be involved in the new sites, I was delighted to accept the role of honorary patron of the Time Team project. It makes me chief superfan and supporter – all armoury in our shared desire to inspire and stimulate interest in archaeology at all levels.”

“It’s great to be back!” says Taylor. “The technology now at our disposal, and a new generation of archaeologists joining the team, is a fantastic prospect. In addition, people are re-discovering the magic and history of their local areas and the wellbeing that can be derived from activities like archaeology. We cannot wait to share this magic with you! Just imagine all our Patreon subscribers sitting down to watch Time Team and thinking: ‘We made this happen!’”

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