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Aileen Fox (1907–2005) Biography

(Aileen Mary Henderson)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for SATA sketch: Born July 29, 1907, in London, England; died November 21, 2005, in Exeter, England. Archaeologist, educator, and author. Fox was an accomplished archeologist best known for her research and excavations of Roman settlements in the southwestern United Kingdom. After completing an M.A. in English in 1932 at Newnham College, Cambridge, she decided that working at an archaeological dig might be interesting. With the help of Roman art scholar Jocelyn Toynbee, arrangements were made for her to assist on an excavation in Richborough, Kent. This was just after World War II, and the area was still in ruins from German bombings. Fox saw this as an advantage, for the area had already, in essence, been dug up by the Nazis. She enthusiastically worked on uncovering the Roman ruins there, publishing her findings in Roman Exeter: Excavations in War-Damaged Areas, 1945–1947 (1952). Her research also led to an appointment in 1947 as lecturer in archaeology at the University of Exeter, where she would teach until 1972. After this first experience on a dig, Fox concentrated on Roman settlements in the area, learning that, contrary to previous beliefs, the influence of the Roman Empire had extended very far into Cornwall. Though Roman ruins remained her specialty, Fox also conducted research extending back into prehistoric times and for-ward into the Middle Ages. After retiring from Exeter, she taught at the University of Aukland for a year as a visiting lecturer. In New Zealand she became interested in the native Maori tribes and conducted archaeological research on them, as well. This resulted in such books as Prehistoric Maori Fortifications in the North Island of New Zealand (1976) and Tiromoana Pa, Te Awanga: Hawke's Bay Excavations, 1974–75 (1978). Among her other publications are a children's book written with Alan Sorrell titled Roman Britain (1961), the scholarly South-West England (1964; revised edition, 1973), and the autobiography Aileen: A Pioneering Archaeologist (2000).



Fox, Aileen, Aileen: A Pioneering Archaeologist, Leominster Gracewing, 2000.


Independent (London, England), December 16, 2005, p. 38.

Times (London, England), December 21, 2005, p. 48.

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