Distinguished British prehistorian who specialized in the Mesolithic period and is well known for his work on world prehistory and developments in the field of palaeoeconomy. Born in Bromley, Kent, he was educated at Marlborough and Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he remained for the rest of his career. He became a Bye-Fellow in 1933 and a Fellow in 1950, breaking off his academic work only during WW2 to serve in the RAF Volunteer Reserve, where he worked on photographic interpretation. In 1952 he was appointed Disney Professor of Archaeology and in 1956 he became head of the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology. He was Master of Peterhouse from 1973 to 1980. Throughout his academic career and beyond into retirement there were a number of key strands to his work. First and foremost was an interest in the Mesolithic of northern Europe, starting with his first book, published at the age of 25, The Mesolithic Age in Britain (1932, Cambridge: CUP). His excavations at Star Carr between 1949 and 1951 remain one of the most important pieces of work relating to the early Mesolithic. Beyond this his interests included world prehistory, a topic which displayed another of his talents, the ability to write for wide audiences and the general public. Prehistoric England (1940, London: Batsford) went through five editions, World prehistory (1961, Cambridge: CUP) through three. And beyond this still was his interest in economic prehistory and the need to take a social perspective, well exemplified in his Prehistoric Europe: the economic basis (1952, London: Methuen). Of course these were not his only interests. For 35 years he was the editor of the Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society and from 1958 to 1962 he was President of the Prehistoric Society. He served on numerous other committees and boards. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1951, appointed CBE in 1971, and knighted in 1992. In 1978 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Society of Antiquaries.
From The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology in Oxford Reference.