Arthur ApSimon

Sad news. Archaeologist Arthur ApSimon has died. He was 91. Like Isobel Smith, Arthur was research assistant to Gordon Childe in London. He went to Queen’s University Belfast, then to the new Department of Archaeology in Southampton, where he remained until retirement. He published an important paper on the Wessex Culture in 1954, he was President of the University of Bristol Spelaeological Society, and he excavated several Palaeolithic sites, but I remember him most for his presence at my first excavation at Stonehenge (above).

It was 1979. I’d been given two weeks by my boss at the Department of the Environment to do an urgent rescue dig, but no funds. Arthur arranged for the Archaeology Department’s minibus to come up from Southampton every day for a couple of weeks, with tools, volunteer students and Arthur himself. Without this the dig would never have happened, and some important discoveries would have been destroyed without record. I was determined that the excavation should take place, but more senior people than me were not keen on it, and the man who everyone thought of as the Stonehenge archaeologist of the time advised against it. Arthur gave me the moral support I needed.

I tell this story in Hengeworld (where you can also find the academic references); the key pages are below, with some photos I took at the time. Arthur knew that somewhere in the centre of Stonehenge was a brass survey plate, to which we could tie our trench survey. It took a bit of finding…

2 thoughts on “Arthur ApSimon

  1. Sorry and very sad to read that Arthur has passed away. He was a guiding light whilst studying at Southampton. Such delightful memories of fieldtrips to Dartmoor and Ireland in the early 80’s. I was just reading a letter he sent me in 1988 and thought I’d look him up only to find this posting. A good innings though! My thoughts are with his family and friends.

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