Glenys Lloyd-Morgan (1945-2012) was a Roman archaeologist whose career was cut short by early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in her early fifties, but who made an important contribution to the field, bringing to her work both a considerable experience of excavation and a scientific background.

In 1963, aged 18, she joined S. S. Frere’s excavations at Dorchester-on-Thames, and the following summer worked with Sonia Chadwick Hawkes at the Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Finglesham. Later digs included Viking sites in Orkney. When sharing tented accommodation she would have to warn the others about her habit of talking loudly in her sleep!

After studying chemistry and physics for a year at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, in 1963–4, she decided to change direction and eventually took a degree in Archaeology and Ancient History at Birmingham University. At the suggestion of the French archaeologist, Danielle Rebuffat – an expert on Etruscan mirrors – Glenys worked on Roman mirrors and predecessor artefacts from Britain and Ireland, for her PhD at Birmingham. The research led to a tour of continental museums in 1973–4, and from September 1973 to the following summer enjoyed a particularly fruitful time at Museum van Kam in Nijmegen.

Glenys Lloyd Morgan in Leiden, in 1973. Copyright Ceridwen Lloyd Morgan

Glenys Lloyd-Morgan in Leiden, in 1973. Copyright Ceridwen Lloyd Morgan.

She also spent some time at the British School in Rome, where she met Sir Anthony Blunt. When her old university friend Erica Davies was studying at the Courtauld Institute, where he was then Director, he told her he vividly recalled Glenys not only for her enthusiastic work on mirrors but also how she had enlivened the School’s New Year Party by dancing on the table. Dr Stephen Briggs, who first got to know Glenys at Young Archaeologists’ Conferences from 1968 onwards, likewise speaks of her ‘great sense of fun, with an infectious enthusiasm’, describing her also as a ‘warm-hearted and helpful collaborator who made lasting friendships.’ She greatly valued the friendship and support of other women archaeologists, including Siân Rees, Miranda Aldhouse-Green and Rosemary Cramp.

Every trowel tells a story. This is Glenys Lloyd Morgan's trowel. See how worn it is, testament to every dig that Gelnys ever worked in. Note the polish on the handle, where Glenys held it tight as she uncovered the past. Ceridwen Lloyd Morgan has entrusted her sister's trowel to us at TrowelBlazers, and we will endeavour to protect Glenys' legacy.

Every trowel tells a story. This is Glenys Lloyd-Morgan’s trowel. See how worn it is, testament to every dig that Glenys ever worked in. Note the polish on the handle, where Glenys held it tight as she uncovered the past. Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan has entrusted her sister’s trowel to us at TrowelBlazers, and we will endeavour to protect Glenys’ legacy.

Elected FSA in March 1979, Glenys spent 23 years working at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester, not only cataloguing but also involved in education and community outreach work, which included her memorable re-enactments of life as a Roman lady. Her career involved struggle and frustration at the glass ceiling and sometimes pettifogging local bureaucracy, but she continued researching, publishing and lecturing. In 1989 she married and moved to Rochdale, leaving her job and becoming a free-lance finds consultant specializing in Roman artefacts, until domestic abuse and illness tragically intervened. However, she left behind a substantial legacy of publications (see http://www.archeophile.com/rw-bibliography-lloydmorgan.htm). Writing in Lucerna, 44 (Jan. 2013), Hilary Cool noted that Glenys ‘was, and remains, the foremost authority on Roman mirrors in the Western empire’.

Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan

We used Glenys Lloyd-Morgan’s trowel to illustrate the importance of networks in supporting women in science, both in the past and in the present day, in our contribution to Cosmic Superheroes, a photographic celebration of real-life women superheroes.

You can see our contribution on line here: https://cosmicshambles.com/superheroes/trowelblazers

And you can visit the exhibition at the Conway Hall, 8th December 2017-31st January 2018, open daily 10am-6pm, Admission FREE. 25 Red Lion Square, London, WC1R 4RL.

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