Tributes to a true champion of archaeology in Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 13:10 12 February 2018
Tributes have been paid to a true champion of archaeology in Norfolk.
Barbara Green, who worked at Norwich Castle for 38 years and was keeper of archaeology at the museum from 1963 until 1992, has died aged 85 and will be remembered for her huge contribution to the understanding of the history of the county.
Brian Ayers, former Norfolk County Archaeologist, said: “Barbara’s knowledge of Norfolk and its history was remarkable. She published papers on topics as varied as prehistoric stone implements, Roman silver, medieval bronze plaques and a short history of Norwich Castle.
“She was a great champion of Norfolk, its history and archaeology, a generous colleague, a source of counsel and a good friend.”
Miss Green, who was raised in Gloucestershire before moving to Norfolk, was the daughter of nationally recognised archaeologist Charles Green and she developed her love of archeaology by accompanying her father on digs. She also worked closely in the 1950s and early 1960s with Rainbird Clarke, the then curator of Norwich Castle Museum.
A graduate of Bedford College, she joined the Norwich Castle team as assistant keeper of natural history in 1954 before becoming keeper of archaeology.
She was behind major exhibitions at the castle including co-curating, with Rachel Young, the 1963 exhibition Norwich: The Growth of a City which was considered groundbreaking. At the time the Medieval Archaeology journal hailed it “splendid” and said “it is only to be hoped that other provincial cities will try to emulate this achievement.” The show’s accompanying publication, republished in 1981, continues today to be considered a good introduction to the history of Norwich.
Miss Green had a particular interest in Anglo-Saxon Norfolk and another key achievement included producing, with J.N.L. Myers, a major report on cemeteries of Caistor-by-Norwich and Markshall. The report was published by the Society of Antiquaries in 1973, a year after Miss Green became a fellow of the society.
She was also a founder member of the Scole Committee which was instrumental in creating the Norfolk and Suffolk Archaeological Units, and she played a key role in the development of the County Sites and Monuments Record which was the foundation of the modern Historic Environment Record, the definitive guide to archaeological sites and historic buildings in the county.
She was influential in championing close working relationships between metal-detectorists and archaeologists in the 1970s. It was something considered quite controversial at the time, and John Davies, chief curator at Norfolk Museums Service today, said local archaeology had benefited hugely from Miss Green’s forward-thinking on the matter.
He added: “She was a great champion of archaeology and the range of her knowledge was exceptional...She had an insatiable thirst for all aspects of archaeology and all archaeological periods from Anglo-Saxon and Medieval through to early Prehistory. She was a very, very dear colleague and we miss her energy and depth and range of knowledge.”
Miss Green was also president of the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society from 1984 to 1986 and continued as vice president.
Her nephew James Green said she continued her to keep close links to archaeology and academia in her retirement through being a member of the society as well as many other organisations including the Society of Antiquaries, Museum Association, The Norfolk Archaeological and Historical Research Group and the Norfolk Historic Buildings Group.
He said: “Barbara was an intelligent, articulate and formidable woman, who reached the top of her profession through enthusiasm, hard work and merit. She loved history and the natural world. She dedicated herself to learning and debate, and to protecting our history and environment. Such was her drive and spirit, she continued to do this well into retirement. Her personable and generous nature was felt across a wide network of colleagues and friends, who I’m sure will miss her. As an aunt, she was kind, good humoured and adept at keeping me and my father (her younger brother) in check. I feel very proud of her, and fortunate to have been a part of her family.”
Miss Green, who had been living at Laurel Lodge, in Norwich, died on January 25.
The funeral service for Miss Green will take place at St Faith Crematorium, in Horsham St Faith, on Friday at 10.15am.