Institute of Archaeology

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Peter Drewett (1947-2013)

5 April 2013

Peter Drewett

Institute staff, students, friends and colleagues will be saddened to hear of the death of Peter Drewett on 1 April.

Peter Drewett was an integral member of the Institute of Archaeology for many years. He set up and directed the Sussex Archaeological Field Unit (now Archaeology South-East) from 1973-91 and was Head of the Department of Prehistory at the Institute of Archaeology from 1991-93.  He established the Institute’s Experimental Archaeology fieldcourse for new undergraduate students (affectionately known as 'PrimTech') which still takes place today.

Peter monitored, supervised and directed the excavation of some of the UK’s most important prehistoric and historic monuments throughout the 1960s and from 1970-73 was an Assistant Inspector of Ancient Monuments.  He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1977 and was also an elected founder member of the Institute of Field Archaeologists (1983). He received his PhD in Prehistoric Archaeology from the Institute in 1986.

Alongside his UK-based contribution to heritage, Peter steered governments on archaeology and cultural heritage issues overseas, including the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Barbados and Hong Kong.

His impressive publication record included more than nine books on UK archaeology, Caribbean archaeology and his bestseller academic book entitled Field Archaeology, which has had multiple reprints.

Peter conducted his academic career with an exceptional parallel commitment to public duty, both at a community level – for example as Chair and then President of the Sussex Archaeological Society as well as in public education and at a national and international level - as an Advisor on Public Policy both in the UK and abroad. In all of his projects he actively involved local volunteers and gave numerous public lectures while his contribution to training both UK and overseas field archaeologists should not be underestimated.

Peter left the Institute, after 31 years, in 2004 to take up the post of Professor of Archaeology at the University of Sussex and was Emeritus Professor in their Centre for Community Engagement at the time of his death.

As one of Peter’s Institute colleagues has indicated:

  • Peter Drewett was an exceptional and wide reaching academic who brought his knowledge to the support of the wider community in providing education opportunities…and impacting upon public heritage management and policy in local, national and international contexts. This commitment was maintained tirelessly throughout his life.

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


Obituary

  • An obituary was published in The Times on 9 May 2013 (subscription required)