Martin Welch (1947-2011)

7 February 2011

Martin Welch

Institute staff, students, friends and colleagues will be saddened to hear of the death of Martin Welch on 6 February.

After studying Modern History at Oxford as an undergraduate (his postgraduate studies at Keble College, Oxford were completed under the supervision of Sonia Hawkes in 1979), Martin took up a post at the Ashmolean Museum in 1973, a job that he enjoyed until 1978. Martin was then appointed to a Lectureship in Medieval Archaeology at University College London, which at that time was a subject based in the History Department at UCL, prior to crossing the road and joining with the Institute of Archaeology in 1991.

He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1984 and promoted to Senior Lecturer at UCL in 1990. His courses on ‘Anglo-Saxon Burial Customs’, ‘Sources for Medieval Archaeology’ and ‘Early Medieval Archaeology of Britain’ were always popular, while his extensive knowledge of European medieval archaeology was reflected in his courses on ‘The Franks’ and ‘Goths, Huns and Lombards’; he also contributed to the Institute’s multi-teacher core courses on ‘Past Societies’ and ‘Texts in Archaeology’.

Martin was awarded a Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant (2006-2009) for his research on Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in southern England AD 400-750 which has produced a systematic characterisation of the kingdoms of the Jutes of Kent, the South Saxons and the West Saxons. The project facilitated the first comprehensive regional and temporal analysis of identity and society and the emergence of early states in post-Roman England.

Studies in Early Anglo-Saxon Art and Archaeology

Martin’s work at UCL, however, engaged him beyond the medieval world and brought him into the domain of contemporary university management. He became the UCL Faculty Tutor for Social and Historical Sciences a decade and more ago, and continued in this post until last year. Martin’s wise and gentle manner in this post was a help to so many people.

Martin’s willingness to share his expertise in the art and archaeology of early medieval Europe and his concern for academic management has benefitted very many people over the years and, on behalf of his friends and colleagues, a book of papers in his honour ‘Studies in Early Anglo-Saxon Art and Archaeology’, edited by his former students, Stuart Brookes, Sue Harrington and Andrew Reynolds, has recently been published by Archaeopress (Oxford: British Archaeological Reports British Series 527).

Our thoughts go out to his family at this difficult time.