Leading authority on medieval pottery and deserted medieval villages. Born in Leicester, he graduated in archaeology from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1951 before being appointed a year later to the inspectorate of ancient monuments in what was then the Ministry of Works. It was a career that he stayed with all his life, becoming principal inspector in 1973 and serving as assistant chief inspector from 1980 to 1987 (the last few years attached to English Heritage). Early in his career he studied the main pottery types in East Anglia from the period ad 650–1100 and used this understanding to date the occupation of villages and early towns. His greatest achievement was realizing the potential of deserted medieval villages. In collaboration with Maurice Beresford he excavated at Wharram Percy in Yorkshire, and together they published Deserted medieval villages (1971, London: Lutterworth Press). Hurst played a leading role in the foundation in 1957 of the Society for Medieval Archaeology and filled almost every office in the society, including that of president. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1958 and of the British Academy in 1987. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of York, while the Society of Antiquaries posthumously awarded him its Society Medal for outstanding service. He died at the age of 75 following a violent incident in his home town.
From The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology in Oxford Reference.