Jane Renfrew

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Lady Renfrew of Kaimsthorn
Jane Margaret Ewbank
SpouseColin Renfrew, Baron Renfrew of Kaimsthorn[1]
ChildrenHelena Renfrew-Knight, Alban Renfrew, Magnus Renfrew[1]
Academic background
Alma materMurray Edwards College, Cambridge
Academic work
Notable worksPalaeoethnobotany: The Prehistoric Food Plants of the Near East and Europe

Jane Renfrew, Lady Renfrew of Kaimsthorn FSA FSA Scot is a British archaeologist and paleoethnobotanist noted for her studies on the use of plants in prehistory, the origin and development of agriculture, food and wine in antiquity, and the origin of the vine and wine in the Mediterranean.[2]


Jane Renfrew was born to the Venerable Walter Frederick Ewbank.[1] Since a young age she has shown an interest in the past, having participated in her first archaeological excavation when she was just 12 years old.[3]

As an undergraduate at New Hall College, Cambridge, she published her first book entitled "Antiquary on Horseback" (1963),[4] with her maiden name. The volume resulted from transcribing and editing manuscripts left by Thomas Machell, rector of Kirkby Thore, Cumbria. During this period she also gained an interest in botany, and consequently paleoethnobotany. At Cambridge she met Colin Renfrew, with whom she married and had 3 children (Helena Renfrew-Knight, Alban Renfrew, Magnus Renfrew).[1]

She took part in excavations in Greece (Nea Nikomedeia, Saliagos and Sitagroi)[5] and the Balkans and during this time collected seeds[6] both at excavations and museums in the region, samples which would be the basis for her doctoral thesis at Cambridge.[7]

Between 1967–1972, she was a lecturer in the Department of Ancient History, at the University of Sheffield and later was a Visiting Lecturer at the Department of Archaeology of the University of Southampton.[8]

In 1981, she returned to Cambridge, where she was a Fellow and Director of Studies of Archaeology Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge[9] and the Master's wife at Jesus College (1986-1997).[8] At Lucy Cavendish College she has also held the positions of Vice-President, Secretary to the Governing Body, Tutor, College Lecturer, Fellow Librarian, Secretary to the Trustees and as Garden Steward.[8] As Garden steward she was responsible for creating in 1987 the "Anglo-Saxon Herb Garden" (a collection of plants used before 1066), which is open to the general public.[10]

In 2012 she donated a large part of her private library to Archaeological Unit and Botanical Gardens Library of the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro.[11][12][7] In acknowledgement of her donation, her work in the field of archaeology and paleoethnobotany, as well as her role in the boards of Kew Gardens and Cambridge Botanical Garden[7][12] the prehistoric garden (called "Ages of Man" / Idades do Homem) was created at the University's Botanical Gardens in her honour, which she inaugurated in 2013.[13]

Presently she is a Senior Fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research[14] and Emeritus Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge.[15]


Awards and accolades[edit]

The Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust funded the creation of a wildlife pond at Lucy Cavendish in recognition of her contribution to the Lucy Cavendish College, its gardens and the University of Cambridge.[17]

The University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro (UTAD) gave her a Medal of Honour in recognition for the donation of her personal library (with books in archaeology, prehistory, history, botany, biology and related sciences) to the Archaeological Unit, Department of Geology and the Botanical Gardens of UTAD.[11][12][7]


  • Renfrew, Jane, 1973, Paleoethnobotany, the prehistoric food plants of the Near East and Europe, Methuen, London / Columbia University Press, New York.
  • Renfrew, Jane, 1985a, Food and Cooking in Prehistoric Britain. English Heritage.
  • Renfrew, Jane, 1985b, Food and Cooking in Roman Britain. English Heritage.
  • Renfrew, Jane, 1991, New light on early farming: recent developments in paleoethnobotany. Edinburgh University Press.
  • Renfrew, Jane; Renfrew, Magnus and Rose, John K., 1996,. Rus in Urbe: Chaucer Road and Latham Road: the History of Two Rural Roads in Cambridge. SOLACHRA.
  • Renfrew, Jane, 2005, Prehistoric Cookery: Recipes and History. English Heritage.
  • Renfrew, Jane, 2006, Food and feasting in antiquity. Antiquity, 80(310):1000–1003.


  1. ^ a b c d Lundy, Darryl. ""Person Page - 68063"". The Peerage. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  2. ^ "Archaeology at Cambridge 2013-2014". McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e "DOURO In CAMBRIDGE - DOURO em CAMBRIDGE - Jane Renfrew". Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  4. ^ Hebblethwaite, John. "Antiquary on Horseback". Hebblethwaite Family History Website. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  5. ^ Renfrew, Colin; Gimbutas, Marija; Elster, Ernestine S., eds. (1986). Excavations at Sitagroi, a prehistoric village in Northeast Greece. Los Angeles: Institute of Archaeology, University of California, Los Angeles. ISBN 0-917956-51-6.
  6. ^ Chapman, John. "Boork Review: Prehistoric Sitagroi: Excavations in Northeast Greece, 1968-1970. Volume 2: The Final Report edited by ERNESTINE E. ELSTER and COLIN RENFREW". The Prehistoric Society. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d "DOURO in CAMBRIDGE - an afternoon in honour of Lady Jane Renfrew - Presentation". Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Lucy Cavendish College, Annual Review 2012". Issuu. Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  9. ^ ""Participants: Jane M. Renfrew"". Innovations in Material and Spiritual Cultures: Exploring the Conjectured Links. John Templeton Foundation. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  10. ^ "Anglo-Saxon Herb Garden". Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Lucy Cavendish College Annual Review 2015" (PDF). Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  12. ^ a b c "O Douro em Cambridge". Universidadede Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  13. ^ "Colecção temática As Idades do Homem". UTAD Jardim Botânico. Botanical Gardens - UTAD. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  14. ^ "McDonald Institute Senior Fellows". McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  15. ^ "Emeritus fellows". Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  16. ^ "University Botanic Garden Annual Report 2011-2012". Issuu. University Botanic Garden, University of Cambridge. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  17. ^ "Lucy Cavendish College Annual Review 2014". Issuu. Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge. Retrieved 27 December 2016.