Aileen Fox

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Aileen Fox

Aileen Henderson

29 July 1907
London, England
Died21 November 2005 (2005-11-22) (aged 98)
Exeter, England
Alma materNewnham College, Cambridge

Aileen Mary Fox, Lady Fox, FSA (née Henderson; 29 July 1907 – 21 November 2005) was an English archaeologist, who specialised in the archaeology of south-west England.[1] She notably excavated the Roman legionary fortress in Exeter, Devon, after the Second World War.


The daughter of a solicitor, Aileen Henderson was educated at Chinthurst School in Surrey and then at Downe House School in Kent, where she remained after it moved to Berkshire, under the headship of Olive Willis. She went on to read English at Newnham College, Cambridge.[2][3][4] After graduating in 1929, she worked as a volunteer excavating at Richborough, Kent, under J. P. Bushe-Fox.[4] She spent the following winter at the British School at Rome, before returning to Richborough.[5] In 1932 she excavated at Hembury hillfort, Devon and Meon Hill, Hampshire.[5]

In 1933 she married Cyril Fox, director of the National Museum of Wales, with whom she had three sons. The Foxes excavated prehistoric and Roman sites throughout the UK, although Fox continued to lead her own digs, for instance at the Roman legionary fortress at Isca Augusta (Caerleon, Wales) in 1939.[6] Fox lectured at the University College, Cardiff, from 1940 to 1945.[5] A notable achievement was three seasons of excavation at Roman Exeter after Second World War damage.[7] She then took up a lectureship at the University College of the South West of England at Exeter in 1947, and stayed on until her retirement in 1971.[5] From the late 1940s, she undertook key excavations in south-west England, shedding new light on prehistoric occupation of Dartmoor, Iron Age hillforts in the region, and the Roman military presence in Cornwall.[8]

In 1965, she was a founder of the Hillforts Study Group alongside Christopher Hawkes and others.[9] In the late 1960s, Fox played a key role in establishing Exeter Archaeological Field Unit. She served as president of the Devon Archaeological Society in 1963–1964 and as a vice-president of the Council for British Archaeology.[8] She believed in nurturing archaeological interest in young people. Her book Roman Britain was a collaboration with the artist Alan Sorrell, whom she had met earlier at the British School at Rome. With her husband's knighthood in 1935 she became known as Lady Fox.

In 1973, Fox became a visiting lecturer at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and from 1974 to 1976 acting archaeologist at the Auckland Museum. Her ten New Zealand years were spent teaching, research, publishing and involvement with organizations such as the New Zealand Archaeological Association and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (now Heritage New Zealand).[10] Her interest in hill forts led to site records in Auckland, Northland and Hawkes Bay and excavating a site at Te Awanga in 1974–1975.[10][11] She also researched Māori carving, burial chests in particular.[10][12]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 1944, Fox was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London,[8] in 1985 awarded an honorary doctorate of letters at the University of Exeter,[8] and in 1998 gained honorary membership of the Prehistoric Society.[8]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Fox, Aileen (1961). Roman Britain. London: Lutterworth Press. ISBN 9780718808006. (Drawings by Alan Sorrell.)
  • Fox, Aileen (1948). "The Early Plan and Town Houses of Silchester (Calleva Atrebatum)". Antiquity. 22 (88): 172–178. doi:10.1017/S0003598X00019785.
  • Fox, Aileen (1952). Roman Exeter (Isca Dumnoniorum): excavations in the war-damaged areas, 1945–1947. Manchester: Published for the University College of the South-West of England by Manchester University Press.
  • Fox, Aileen (1955). "Celtic fields and farms on Dartmoor, in the light of recent excavations at Kestor". Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. 20: 87–102. doi:10.1017/s0079497x00017795.
  • Fox, Aileen (1955). "Some evidence for a Dark Age trading site at Bantham, near Thurlestone, South Devon". The Antiquaries Journal. 35 (1–2): 55–67. doi:10.1017/s0003581500048617.
  • Fox, Aileen (1974). "Prehistoric Maori storage pits: problems in interpretation". Journal of the Polynesian Society. 83 (2): 141–154.
  • Fox, Aileen (1976). Prehistoric Maori Fortifications in the North Island of New Zealand. Auckland: Longman Paul. Monograph No. 6 of the New Zealand Archaeological Association.
  • Fox, Aileen (1980). "A new look at Maori carved burial chests". Antiquity. 54 (210): 7–14. doi:10.1017/S0003598X00042782.


  1. ^ Allen, John (16 December 2005). "Aileen Fox: Founder of modern archaeology in south-western England'". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 18 December 2005. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  2. ^ Fox 2000, p. 25.
  3. ^ Fox 2000, p. 27.
  4. ^ a b "Aileen Fox". The Times. London. 21 December 2005. p. 48.
  5. ^ a b c d Quinnell, Henrietta (20 January 2006). "Obituary: Aileen Fox". The Guardian.
  6. ^ Fox, Aileen. "The legionary fortress at Caerleon, Monmouthshire: Excavations in Myrtle Cottage Orchard 1939". Archaeologia Cambrensis. 95: 101–52.
  7. ^ Fox, Aileen (1952). Roman Exeter (Isca Dumnoniorum): excavations in the war-damaged areas, 1945–1947. Manchester: Published for the University College of the South-West of England by Manchester University Press.
  8. ^ a b c d e Quinnell, Henrietta (2013). Goldman, Lawrence (ed.). Oxford dictionary of national biography 2005–2008. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 398.
  9. ^ "The Hillfort Study Group".
  10. ^ a b c Davidson, Janet (1983). "Aileen Fox in New Zealand: an appreciation". In Bulmer, Susan E.; Law, R. Garry; Sutton, Douglas G. (eds.). A lot of spadework to be done: essays in honour of Lady Aileen Fox by her New Zealand friends. Auckland: New Zealand Archaeological Association. pp. 7–14. OCLC 557748693.
  11. ^ Fox, Aileen (1978). Tiromoana pa, Te Awanga, Hawke's Bay, excavations 1974-5. Dunedin: New Zealand Archaeological Association. OCLC 470602261.
  12. ^ Fox, Aileen (1980). "A new look at Maori burial chests". Antiquity. 54: 7–14. doi:10.1017/S0003598X00042782.


  • Fox, Aileen (2000). Aileen: A pioneering archaeologist. Leominster: Gracewing. ISBN 9780852445235. (autobiography)