Basil has a remarkable capacity for facts. He tells Edith at one point that he can tell which region of England a handful of dirt comes from, because he has done his job for so many years and made a study of it. He knows all about Viking ships as well, and heads to the dig confident that he knows how and where to dig. Initially, he directs Edith away from the biggest mound in his belief that thieves might have gotten there first due to the impression in its center, but over time he thinks about how farmers might have skimmed off and leveled the top, leading any potential thieves to sink a shaft into the wrong place. So he switches excavation to the biggest mound, where he finds a ship that leads him to conclude they have found a grave. Not just any burial site, either, but one belonging to a king. His identification of an ancient coin leads him to suspect an accurate date range for what they are excavating, and later he is proven correct when they realize it’s several centuries earlier than they were expecting. Basil has a great brain for facts and logic, and often points out solid reasons for his decisions about how to excavate and why, but is a bit awkward with people. He firmly says he must make two pounds a week, and that the British Museum “under-pays him” for what he does. He almost rides off the dig when Edith cannot meet his demands (he starts to change his mind halfway up the bike path, and she sends a man to fetch him, agreeing to his terms). He figures out that she is poorly given her behavior and how bad she looks some days, and then takes a particular interest in her son, teaching him things, listening to him “prattle on,” and showing him stars through his telescope. Basil isn’t one to speculate without proof, though, and dismisses her “hunch” about the mound until he has thought about it and come up with factual reasons why he should excavate it.

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Basil has spent his entire life devoted to one particular topic of interest, and that’s history relating to the Vikings. He has numerous books on the subject that travel around with him, and has become such an expert, he can tell by looking at an object what era it comes from. He predicts before anyone else believes him that the treasures in the mound are much, much older than he first believed. Basil appears to be somewhat emotionally distant from his wife, and is awkward around her. It surprises him to find her in his room, since he did not mentally prepare to see her. He can also be firm and assertive in stating what he will and will not tolerate, as when he agrees to two pounds a week and intends to leave if anyone else takes over the dig. (Fortunately, he doesn’t have to.) It’s hard to change his mind or dissuade him from his views, many of which pan out to be true. Though introverted and reclusive (he spends a lot of time alone, sitting and smoking his pipe and ignoring people), he isn’t above being able to relate to Edith’s son and comforting him when needs must. He is agreeable enough to allow others to boss him around, although he does not like it. And he bears various insults and snide remarks with politeness, since he knows the truth will out in the end and prove him right.

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