British archaeologist and pioneer of aerial archaeology. Born in Matlock, Derbyshire, he was brought up in Norfolk and educated at King's School, Ely, and Haileybury College. On leaving school he joined United Steel in Scunthorpe as a trainee manager, and it was at this time that he began his archaeological fieldwork with investigations at Risley Warren. During the war he served with the RAF in Bomber Command, flying missions in Whitleys, Wellingtons, and Mosquitoes. He was awarded the DFC for a daring raid on the Kiel Canal. After his tours of duty he was put to training pilots at Stanton Harcourt in Oxfordshire, and it was here that he developed an interest in archaeological reconnaissance. After the war he returned to United Steel, but continued his archaeological interests with surveys and excavations. From 1970 he renewed his interest in aerial photography and in 1975 obtained a private pilot's licence. Taking early retirement in 1977, Riley devoted himself full‐time to archaeology and recorded many prehistoric and later sites, especially around Sheffield and the Peak District. He published several books and articles documenting his work, including Early landscapes from the air (1981, Sheffield: Sheffield University Press). He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Sheffield.
The Times, 28 August 1993