Geoffrey Wainwright (archaeologist)

Geoffrey John Wainwright MBE FSA FRSA FLSW (19 September 1937 – 6 March 2017) was a British archaeologist specialising in prehistory. He was the Chief Archaeologist of English Heritage from 1989 to 1999, and visiting professor to a number of universities. He served as President of the Prehistoric Society from 1981 to 1985 and the Society of Antiquaries of London from 2007 to 2010.[1]

Geoffrey Wainwright

Born19 September 1937
Died6 March 2017
AwardsGrahame Clark Medal for Prehistoric Archaeology
Academic background
Alma materUniversity College of South Wales and Monmouthshire
UCL Institute of Archaeology
Academic work
InstitutionsUniversity of Baroda

Early life and educationEdit

Wainwright was born on 19 September 1937 in Angle, Pembrokeshire, Wales.[2] He was educated at Pembroke Dock Grammar School.[2] He studied archaeology at the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire in Cardiff, and graduated with a first class Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1958.[2] He undertook postgraduate research in "the Mesolithic cultures of south-west Wales" at the UCL Institute of Archaeology,[2][3] completing his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in 1961.[2]


From 1961 to 1963, Wainwright was professor of environmental archaeology at the University of Baroda in India.[1][4] He then joined the Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments, English Heritage, serving as an inspector from 1963 to 1980, a principal inspector from 1980 to 1990, and as Chief Archaeologist from 1989 to 1999.[1][4] He has been a visiting professor at the University of Southampton since 1991, and was a visiting professor at the UCL Institute of Archaeology from 1995 to 2005.[1]

Wainwright was involved in his first excavation as a university student: this was a Mesolithic settlement at Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, Wales. In 1965, he excavated an entire Iron Age settlement in Tollard Royal, Wiltshire: unusually for the time, and with "consternation from traditional archaeologists", he used a JCB digger to clear the topsoil. He used the same technique at more Iron Age sites and also at some late Neolithic henges.[2] In 1966, he excavated Durrington Walls, and he found two timber circles. In 1972, he excavated the Iron Age settlement at Gussage All Saints, Dorset.[5]

Later lifeEdit

In retirement, Wainwright lived in Pontfaen, Pembrokeshire, Wales.[6] He died at home on 6 March 2017, aged 79.[6][2] His funeral was held on 20 March at the Parc Gwyn Crematorium in Narberth, Pembrokeshire.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

Wainwright was first married to Sue Lukes and they had three children.[2] Having divorced Sue, he married Judith Paton in 1977.[4][2]


In the 1991 New Year Honours, Wainwright was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of his services as Principal Inspector of Ancient Monuments for English Heritage.[7] In 2006, he was awarded the Grahame Clark Medal for Prehistoric Archaeology by the British Academy.[8]

On 2 March 1967, he was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA).[9] In 2011, he was elected Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales (FLSW).[10] He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Geoffrey John WAINWRIGHT". People of Today. Debrett's. Archived from the original on 11 November 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Darvill, Timothy (15 March 2017). "Geoff Wainwright obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  3. ^ Davies, Gwyn; Farquhar, Ron; Preston, Laura (1997). "Interview with Dr. Geoffrey Wainwright, Chief Archaeologist at English Heritage". Papers from the Institute of Archaeology. 8: 7–15. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "WAINWRIGHT, Geoffrey John". Who's Who 2017. Oxford University Press. November 2016. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  5. ^ Wainwright, GJ (1973). "The Iron Age settlement of Gussage All Saints" (PDF). Antiquity. 47 (186): 109. ISSN 0003-598X. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  6. ^ a b c "Death Notices & Obituaries: Geoffrey John Wainwright". Western Telegraph. 14 March 2017. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  7. ^ "No. 52382". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 1990. pp. 12–16.
  8. ^ "Grahame Clark Medal 2006". British Academy. 2006. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  9. ^ "Fellows Directory – W". Society of Antiquaries of London. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  10. ^ "The Society's Founding Fellows and Fellows" (pdf). Learned Society of Wales. 13 May 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2014.