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Brian Hartley

Members will be very sorry to learn of the death, on 26 April 2005, of Mr Brian Hartley, former Reader in Roman Provincial Archaeology.

Brian Hartley was born in 1929 and educated at The Kings School, Chester, where he was Head of School. After National Service in the RAF, he entered Trinity Hall, Cambridge in 1950 to read for the Natural Sciences Tripos. Archaeology, however, was already his principal interest; by the time he left school he had acquired considerable experience of formal excavation. It was a logical progression, therefore, when, after completing his first degree in 1953, he went on to read for the Diploma in Prehistoric Archaeology. This he was awarded with Distinction in 1954.

He proceeded to broaden his experience and expertise as a field archaeologist whilst employed as Research Assistant to the Disney Professor of Archaeology at Cambridge, working, for example, on the site of the Iron Age hill-fort at Wandlebury, near Cambridge. When, in 1956, he was appointed as Lecturer in Romano-British Archaeology in the Department of Latin Language and Literature at Leeds, he was already recognised as a leading excavator of Roman sites, and as an emerging expert on Roman pottery.

In the years that followed, Brian Hartley consolidated and greatly enhanced his academic standing, coming to enjoy a reputation as an outstanding scholar. His excavations of Roman forts at Bainbridge (the Universitys training dig), Bowes and Ilkley, of Roman villas at Gargrave and High Wycombe, and of Roman industrial sites in the Nene Valley - and in Central France - led to a series of authoritative publications, adding considerably to knowledge of Romano-British life and history, both military and civilian, and providing important breakthroughs in the investigation and interpretation of archaeological findings.

He made a life-long study of, and was a leading international authority on, samian ware, a subject of vital importance for the chronology of Roman sites throughout Western Europe in the first two centuries A.D. This distinctive pottery, with its reddish gloss, was imported into Britain in substantial quantities, where, as in other parts of the early Roman Empire, it was regarded as the finest quality tableware. With the assistance of his colleague, Brenda Dickinson, Brian Hartley built the reputation of Leeds as a national - and international - centre of specialist advice and expertise on samian ware, to which virtually every Romano-British excavator had recourse for assistance at some point.

He received financial support for a number of years from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation for a major long-term research project to compile an index of potters stamps on samian ware from all parts of the Empire. The University recognised his scholarly standing by conferring the title of Reader in Roman Provincial Archaeology upon him in 1967. External recognition came in a number of guises, including election as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1957 and service on committees of the Council for British Archaeology, the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, the Yorkshire Archaeological Society and the York Archaeological Trust.

Despite the press of his scholarly commitments, Brian Hartley made time to be an inspiring teacher and lecturer. His long-standing friend and colleague, Brenda Dickinson, wrote in the University Review at the time of his retirement that Brians first love has always been undergraduate teaching students past and present talk of stimulating, amusing classes, and of Brians readiness to discuss theories or give advice.

In the Department of Latin, he made the study of Roman Britain by far the most successful and popular of the special studies taken by students specialising in Classics and Latin. When a separate Department of Archaeology was established in 1974, he was appointed as the inaugural Head of Department, serving until 1979. He was an Associate Lecturer in both the School of Classics and the School of History, and transferred to the former School on the closure of the Department of Archaeology in 1985. From 1990 until 1995, he was Director of the Centre for Archaeological Studies. A numismatist of some standing, Mr Hartley also served as the Curator of the University Coin Collection from 1956 until 1982.

Brian Hartley retired in September 1995, after thirty-nine years service to the University. In retirement, he continued energetically and with undiminished enthusiasm to pursue the writing up of excavation reports and his work on samian ware.