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Eric Birley

(1906—1995) historian and archaeologist


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(1906–95) [Bi]

British archaeologist who became the leading authority on the Roman army and Roman frontier control. Born in Lancashire, he was educated at Clifton College and Brasenose College, Oxford. While still a student he began working on excavations on Hadrian's Wall, and in 1928 joined R. G. Collingwood's survey of the Cumberland coast signalling stations. In 1930 he was appointed director of the Durham University Excavation Committee, and in 1931 became lecturer in Romano-British history and archaeology at Armstrong College in Newcastle upon Tyne, then part of Durham University. Throughout the 1930s he excavated at Roman sites on or around Hadrian's Wall. During WW2 he served in Military Intelligence Research, rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Returning to Durham University after the war he was vice-master and then master of Hatfield College where he founded the School of Archaeology. He was appointed to the Chair of Romano-British History and Archaeology in 1956. He retired in 1971. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1931, and a Fellow of the British Academy in 1969. His publications include Roman Britain and the Roman army (1953, Kendal: Titus Wilson) and Roman frontier studies (1969, Kendal: Titus Wilson).

From The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Archaeology.



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