Sheppard Frere

17 March 2015

Sheppard Frere excavating at Verulamium (Photo: Archaeology International)

Those connected with the Institute in the 1950s and '60s will be saddened to learn of the death of Sheppard Frere CBE, FBA, who died last month at the age of 98.

Sheppard Frere taught Roman Archaeology at the Institute from 1955-1967, first as Lecturer and latterly as Professor of the Archaeology of the Roman Provinces from 1961-1966.

He was descended from the Freres of Roydon Hall, Norfolk, notable among whom was the land owner and antiquary, John Frere FSA (1740-1807). Sheppard himself went to school at Lancing College before taking a BA at Cambridge. During the war he was a conscientious objector and served as an auxiliary fireman in London.

After the War Sheppard returned to Lancing as a teacher of classics and as housemaster. He then briefly held the post of Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Manchester (1954-5) before moving to the Institute where he taught Roman Britain as part of the two year postgraduate diploma course on Iron Age and Roman Archaeology. In 1966 he became Professor of the Archaeology of the Roman Empire at Oxford University and Fellow of All Souls.

Sheppard Frere and Sir Mortimer Wheeler (Photo: Archaeology International)

Sheppard Frere was a noted excavator of Roman Sites, among which may be mentioned post-war rescue excavations at Canterbury, major excavations at Verulamium where he followed in the footsteps of Sir Mortimer Wheeler and Molly Cotton. He also excavated with Molly at the Iron Age Hillfort of Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire, and with John Wilkes, one of his successors as Professor at the Institute, at the Roman fort of Strageath in Scotland.

Besides being an active archaeologist, Sheppard wrote Britannia, the definitive history of Roman Britain (1967, third edition 1987), and was responsible for the creation of the journal Britannia, published by the Society for Promotion of Roman Studies, which has appeared annually since 1970. He also edited (in conjunction with Roger Tomlin) R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright's The Roman Inscriptions of Britain, Vol II, 1990-5.

It would be no exaggeration to say that along with Francis Haverfield, R.G. Collingwood and Ian Richmond, Sheppard, 'Sam', Frere was one of the giants in the study of Roman Britain.

Our thoughts go out to Sheppard's family at this time.

A Memorial Service will be held at All Souls' College, Oxford on 16 May 2015 (2.00pm).

[With many thanks to Mark Hassall for this notice]

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