You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Obituaries’ category.

Eric Reginald Lubbock, 4th Baron Avebury (29 September 1928 – 14 February 2016)
The Heritage Trust is sad to report the death of Lord Avebury, who passed away today aged 87. Among his many campaigns those that surrounded the iconic Silbury Hill in Wiltshire, England are of especial poignancy to those who care about the protection of our heritage. We can think of no better tribute to him than to republish here a letter to the Guardian newspaper which he wrote in 2007 entitled No climbing up on Silbury Hill
Image credit and © Frankie
While it was good that Peter May and his family had such an enjoyable visit to the Avebury World Heritage Site (Things to do with your family this week, Family, July 14), they ought to have been aware that Silbury Hill has been closed to visitors since 1974. Climbing the monument damages archaeology located just beneath the surface. It also threatens the flora and fauna, which are critical to Silbury Hill’s status as a site of special scientific interest. Incursion on to the monument underlines the need to support the notices and fences prohibiting entry, with clear public messages and examples of good conduct sensitive to the best interests of the site.

My grandfather purchased Silbury Hill, introduced the first legislation to protect ancient monuments, and placed the hill under permanent guardianship. As owner of the site, I am concerned by the conflicting messages now being sent out by English Heritage, such as their plan to allow a “time capsule” to be buried in the monument. The current Silbury Hill conservation project, for which EH deserves credit, is designed to restore the original fabric by backfilling with pure chalk. Placing a foreign object in the monument offends conservation principles, as well as the spiritual beliefs of some people. Describing the object as a time capsule means that EH expects it to be retrieved at some future date, requiring further tunnelling, yet the current works have been undertaken to correct the mistakes of past excavations.

English Heritage should give the public clear uncomplicated messages about how to enjoy ancient monuments respectfully, and should set the very best of examples themselves.

Eric Avebury
House of Lords


Archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad, 82, was interrogated by so-called ‘Islamic State’ thugs for a month before he was beheaded yesterday in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra
He’s shown here, in 2002, in front of a rare first century sarcophagus from Palmyra depicting two priests
Image credit Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Kareem Shaheen in Beirut and Ian Black in London Report for The Guardian
The brutal murder of Khaled al-Asaad, 82, is the latest atrocity perpetrated by the jihadi group, which has captured a third of Syria and neighbouring Iraq and declared a “caliphate” on the territory it controls. It has also highlighted Isis’s habit of looting and selling antiquities to fund its activities – as well as destroying them.
More here. See also our earlier feature on Palmyra here.
Muireann with Seamus Heaney (sitting far left) and friends, Feis Teamhra, Hill of Tara 2010
Image credit Carmel Diviney
This week one of the great campaigners for saving the Hill of Tara has died – Dr. Muireann ni Bhrolchain. I followed the campaign for years in the news and of course she and her fellow protestors (including the poet Seamus Heaney) failed in stopping the M3 motorway in Ireland, but they fought a good battle. Really I should put some harp music on for that was the symbol they used, but instead a speech by her here highlights what she stood for in the face of heritage destruction.
There is a full obituary to Muireann here and also another moving one by Ian Morse in yesterday’s Irish Times
From warrior to legend
As you pass into legend Muireann know you were peerless in your chosen field. Your legacy is your humanity and intellect and the passion by which you told your truths. You were a rarity because you inspired those seekers of knowledge with the simple contents of your heart and soul. You challenged those who failed to understand the true meaning of heritage, and in truth made them realise their own inadequacies. Rest in Peace within your new realm knowing the flame you ignited will never be extinguished. It was my honour and privilege to call you friend.
With love and respect
Ian Morse
Dr Margaret Helen Rule (1928-2015)
Dr Margaret Helen Rule, CBE, the woman who helped raise the Mary Rose, died Thursday aged 86. She led the project that excavated and raised a huge section of Henry XIII’s Tudor warship from the bottom of the Solent in October 1982.
More here. Video here. See also our earlier feature New Mary Rose Museum opens this month.
David Russell Harris (1930 – 2013) geographer and archaeologist
Martin Jones, writing in The Guardian on Friday, 17 January 2014, reports on the death of David Russell Harris, geographer and archaeologist –
The beginnings of farming, 10,000 or more years ago, have often been discussed in relation to a few discrete “centres of origin”, for example the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East, and Central America. That we are now aware of a far richer, deeper, more diverse history of plant and animal exploitation right across the globe is thanks, in large part, to the contribution of David Harris, who has died aged 83.
Five decades of academic life took David through departments of geography, anthropology, botany and archaeology, and his fieldwork took him to each of the world’s inhabited continents. A seminal moment in his career came during a journey through the Venezuelan rainforest in early 1968. While travelling in a dugout canoe to a particularly remote part of the upper Orinoco, he was able to observe and record the sophisticated forest management practised by the Waika Indians.
Root crops and fruit trees were inter-planted within clearings that merged with the forest ecosystem, in a way of life that integrated cropping, fishing and hunting with the use of the forest resources. That experience led David to question the conventional idea of a simple split between hunter-gatherers and farmers, and to challenge it in a series of publications.
In the following decade, he continued his explorations of tropical ecosystem management, in the Torres Strait Islands to the north of Australia. The work of David and his colleagues in these islands identified one of the most ancient locations of complex plant management in the world, with a history of several millennia of taro cultivation in drained and managed plots.
Throughout his career, he highlighted the diversity of the world’s ecosystems, and the corresponding diversity and complexity of human management and its history.
Full obituary here.
Irish poet and Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney at University College Dublin in 2009
Source Wikimedia Commons. Image credit Sean O’Connor
Qual e’ colui che somniando vede,
che dopo ‘l sogno la passione impressa
rimane, e l’altro a la mente non riede,
cotal son io…

Dante, Paradiso, Canto XXXIII

‘Like somebody who sees things when he’s dreaming
And after the dream lives with the aftermath
Of what he felt, no other trace remaining,

So I live now’, for what I saw departs
And is almost lost, although a distilled sweetness
Still drops from it into my inner heart.

It is the same with snow the sun releases,
The same as when in wind, the hurried leaves
Swirl round your ankles and the shaking hedges

That had flopped their catkin cuff-lace and green sleeves
Are sleet-whipped bare. Dawn light began stealing
Through the cold universe to County Meath,

Over weirs where the Boyne water, fulgent, darkling,
Turns its thick axle, over rick-sized stones
Millennia deep in their own unmoving

And unmoved alignment. And now the planet turns
Earth brow and templed earth, the crowd grows still
In the wired-off precinct of the burial mounds,

Flight 104 from New York audible
As it descends on schedule into Dublin,
Boyne Valley Centre Car Park already full,

Waiting for seedling light on roof and windscreen.
And as in illo tempore people marked
The king’s gold dagger when he plunged it in

To the hilt in unsown ground, to start the work
Of the world again, to speed the plough
And plant the riddled grain, we watch through murk

And overboiling cloud for the milted glow
Of sunrise, for an eastern dazzle
To send first light like share-shine in a furrow

Steadily deeper, farther available,
Creeping along the floor of the passage grave
To backstone and capstone, holding its candle

Under the rock-piled roof and the loam above.


Seamus Heaney

13 April 1939 – 30 August 2013


Archaeologist Mike Morwood with the remains of a stegodon (left) and Homo floresiensis (right)
Image credit Kate Wong
Kate Wong, writing in the Scientific American, reports on the death of Mike Morwood, co-discoverer of the ‘human hobbit’ –
Morwood, who passed away on July 23 from cancer, made important contributions in research areas ranging from the rock art of Australia’s Kimberly region to the seafaring capabilities of Homo erectus. But he will be best remembered for a discovery he and his colleagues made on the Indonesian island of Flores: the remains of a miniature human species that shared the planet with our own ancestors not so long ago.
Full article here.

Ian Constantinides, a leading figure in architectural conservation
17 September 1955 – 15 April 2013

Clementine Cecil, writing in The Guardian yesterday and on the 28 May, reports on the death of Ian Constantinides, a leading figure in architectural conservation –
Ian Constantinides, who has died of cancer aged 57, was one of the most innovative figures in recent British architectural conservation. Through his company, St Blaise, he brought together the worlds of building and conservation at a time when the latter was seen as marginal and impractical. With St Blaise he worked on a huge variety of projects, from great castles to bridges and follies. He helped to restore Windsor castle after the fire of 1992 and rebuilt St Ethelburga’s church in Bishopsgate, London, after its destruction by IRA bombing in 1993. Ian, a tall, wiry man with huge energy, also trained a large number of others – in his adventurous, hands-on style – who continue to play a central role in conservation.
He believed that each building held the answers about the best way to repair it if you looked closely enough. The human eye was the best tool, he would say, “better than the tape measure, the set square and the water level”. The test of a good repair, he said, was whether it functioned and was beautiful. “If it fails in either, then it is not a good repair.” He invited people from all the trades on to each building site and encouraged them to learn from each other.
Ian set up St Blaise in 1982. Under his direction, it was involved in the repair of some 150 historic buildings. The company tended to operate at the highest academic end of building conservation, for English Heritage, Cadw (the Welsh historic environment service), Historic Scotland, the National Trust and the Landmark Trust, as well as major sites such as the British Museum, where it was involved in the conservation and restoration of the stone. At the time of his death, Ian was consultant to a conservation project for the James Gibbs building at King’s College, Cambridge.
For his funeral, Ian gave instructions that his coffin be made of scaffolding planks with rope handles.
Full obituary here.
Japanese archaeologist, Dr Nishimura Masanari (4th from left), with villagers of the Kim Lan ancient village and excavation site in Hanoi
Nishino Noriko
Japanese archaeologist, Dr Nishimura Masanari, who dedicated 23 years of his life to Vietnamese archaeology, was tragically killed in a road accident in Vietnam on the 9 June; he was on his way from Hanoi to a new excavation site in Hai Phong Province. Dr Nishimura was 48 and married to linguist and fellow archaeologist Nishino Noriko.
Full article here.
Peter Smith, architectural historian, 1926–2013
The Heritage of Wales reports today on the death of Peter Smith, architectural historian.
Peter Smith FSA, architectural historian and author of the classic Houses of the Welsh Countryside, died on the 12 March 2013 in a nursing home.  Born in 1926 at Winlaton-on-Tyne, Co. Durham, the son of a schools’ inspector (H.M.I.), subsequent moves gave Peter Smith an early appreciation of the diversity of Britain but he never lost the regional accent acquired in his childhood.
After Oxford, where he read Modern History, there was a brief career as an Assistant Principal in Whitehall in the Ministry of Transport. His enthusiasm for historic buildings, however, led him to study successfully for the R.I.B.A. intermediate exam.  In 1949 he was appointed to the Welsh Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments, one of a small number of standing Royal Commissions, and began his long professional study of Welsh antiquities.
More here.

Master Naohachi Usami, 8th generation head of the Kyoto Shōkaku-dō Conservation Studio, at work in 1978 on a Japanese painting

It is with very great sadness that The Heritage Trust reports the death this morning of Mr Naohachi Usami, 8th generation head of the Shōkaku-dō conservation studio in Kyoto – one of only a few studios in Japan accredited with conserving and restoring Japanese National Treasures and other pictorial works of national and international importance.

Beginning with his father, Naoyuki Usami, Naohachi Usami continued and promoted a policy of accepting and training foreign students in the centuries’ old Japanese tradition of mounting, restoring and conserving works of art on paper and silk. Some of those students studied at the Shōkaku-dō for only a few weeks, while others trained tirelessly there for a decade or more, eventually taking back to their respective countries skills and techniques which are now being used to conserve our precious heritage of Far Eastern pictorial art.

In Asia, Europe and the United States there are national museums and private conservation studios that have conservators, trained at the Shōkaku-dō, who are now working at those studios or running them. The Hirayama Asian Pictorial Art Conservation Studio at the British Museum is just one example which has grown out of Naohachi Usami and the Shōkaku-dō’s open-door policy towards training foreign students and will remain his abiding legacy to the world of Far Eastern pictorial art conservation.

Naohachi Usami was 86, he is succeeded by his son at the Shōkaku-dō, Mr Naohide Usami.


From The Kyoto Shimbun

宇佐美直八氏死去 前宇佐美松鶴堂社長






June 2022
Follow The Heritage Trust on
%d bloggers like this: