A former resident academic on Channel 4's popular archaeology show Time Team has died at the age of 66.
Professor Mick Aston appeared in the programme alongside Tony Robinson from 1994 to 2011.
His friend and former colleague Phil Harding confirmed the news and Time Team's official Facebook and Twitter accounts also paid tribute to the retired academic with the message: "It is with a very heavy heart that we've been informed that our dear colleague Mick Aston has passed away. Our thoughts are with his family."
Professor Aston lived in Somerset and taught at a number of British universities. Born and raised in Oldbury in the West Midlands, he was instantly recognisable for his colourful jumpers.
He continued to take part in archaeology projects after leaving Time Team acrimoniously last year, having accused the programme of dumbing down.
Dr Harding said that although his friend had suffered health problems, learning of his death just two weeks after talking to him on the phone for the last time had come as a shock.
"It just seems so incredible, like a bad dream, but unfortunately this is no dream," the 62-year-old said.
"He was a seriously good mate and a seriously good archaeologist, a unique man.
"Everybody loved him, he just had a way with people. I cannot believe there was anybody who disliked him, he just had such a relaxed way.
"He had incredible knowledge and an effortless way of making archaeology accessible to people."
Before being named an emeritus professor at the university of Bristol and an honorary visiting professor at Exeter and Durham, Professor Aston first joined the cast led by actor and presenter Tony Robinson when the show began in 1994.
Professor Francis Pryor, who also worked with Prof Aston on the programme, paid tribute to a man who he described as "remarkable archaeologist who could really dig".
He said: "I will remember him fondly - was a warm, loving, nice man.
"He did very good work on original British towns which is still being built on and he was an authority on monastic church archaeology and early medieval archaeology."
Additional reporting by PAReuse content