Professor Sheppard Frere

The Times obituary of the archaeologist Professor Sheppard Frere, who died on 26th February 2015, carried a familiar photograph: Gloria and Laura Geeve with the professor on a Canterbury dig in 1952. The same picture appears in With Love, which contains some detailed references to the happy archaeological experiences of the two sisters.

Laura has commented on the online edition of the newspaper with her memories of the digs:

Laura Ford: remembering inspirational digs with the late Professor Sheppard Frere

Laura Ford: remembering inspirational digs with the late Professor Sheppard Frere

I was delighted to see the photograph that accompanied the obituary of Professor Sheppard Frere. It is very familiar to me. I am Laura, the central figure, and the other student is my late sister, Gloria Geeve. We went on a few of his digs and found them really interesting. Once, I unearthed a penny from King Alfred’s reign which received attention from the national press. I remember the method of cleaning coins was not exactly hygienic: spit and polish with a muddy finger.

I had looked forward to meeting Professor Frere with mixed feelings: he was after all the successor to Sir Mortimer Wheeler who had briefly been my professor at University College, London, and was extremely formidable. However, in my diary of the time I wrote: “We waited for Mr Frere who kept his trousers up with a tie but he was very nice and not old.”

He was always pleasant and easy to talk to. The fact that we kept wanting to go on more digs shows how much we enjoyed them. From my diary again: “Said good-bye to dear Mr Frere.” These digs increased my desire to become an archaeologist, but after taking my degree in Classics I followed a safer path into publishing and then teaching.

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