Printer Friendly

Barbara Harbottle; Obituaries.

ACHAMPION of the North's heritage and a fount of knowledge on the region's history, archaeology and architecture has died.

Ruth Barbara Harbottle, known as Barbara, who lived in Newcastle, died following a short illness at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary on February 18, aged 80.

Born on August 23, 1931, in Gosforth, to Thomas Milnes Harbottle and his wife Marion Learmount, Barbara spent her early life in Rothbury being privately educated with her two brothers and the children of two other evacuated families.

She then attended Queen Margaret's in York, a school which in its turn was evacuated to Castle Howard.

She had already joined the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne when she went to Cambridge to read history at Girton in 1951.

After she graduated she moved to London to join the team which prepared the Official History of the Second World War, meeting many of the great generals of that period.

Her heart, however, was in the North and she soon moved back to work in the archives department of Newcastle Corporation.

She became involved in archaeology through the annual excavations at Corbridge Roman Fort, run by Durham University.

Her interests, though, lay more with the medieval period than with the Romans.

She formed a medieval section in the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne and began excavating medieval sites in the region with its help. Her excavation of Nafferton Castle between 1958 and 1960 was an early achievement but she had already started work at Blackfriars in Newcastle in 1957.

She continued excavations at Blackfriars through the 1960s, 1970s and in 1985, as parts of the site became available, and finally was able to confirm the 13th Century plan of the buildings.

The digging team from the deserted medieval village of West Whelpington joined her for four seasons of excavation at Newminster Abbey.

Between 1964 and 1974 Barbara extended her interests to sites in Cumbria, excavating at Kendal and Austin Friars, Penrith, while continuing work in Newcastle at Gunner Tower.

She also worked for both Durham and Newcastle Adult Education Departments as well as producing the Archaeological Newsletter for Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmorland. In 1972 this amalgamated with the Newsletter for Durham to become the Council for British Archaeology's revived Northern Group. From the mid-1960s she worked parttime for the School of Architecture at Newcastle University.

In 1974, however, when the Metropolitan County of Tyne and Wear was established, she became its first County Archaeologist, a post which amalgamated her interests in archaeology, archives and standing buildings. From this time on her archaeological activities were confined to Newcastle, bar a short campaign at Etal Castle.

When she retired in 1997 she encouraged the revival of the Victoria County History for Durham and edited its newsletter. She was a member of the Newcastle Diocesan Advisory Council and the Durham Cathedral FAC as well as Newcastle Cathedral Archaeologist, retiring only shortly before her death.

Barbara was also generous in using her skills to help at Woodhorn on the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne's archive and at the Hancock on the material held by the Natural History Society of Northumbria.

She was president of Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society from 1993-96 and president of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne from 1966-68.

Barbara was also a keen sailor and ornithologist and a devoted aunt and great aunt to her large family.

She had wide interests and a wide circle of friends, more than 200 of whom attended her memorial service at St Nicholas Cathedral on March 7.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Article Type:Obituary
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 15, 2012
Previous Article:Joan Pringle.
Next Article:City as you've never seen it; TONY HENDERSON reports on how a chance find of some remarkable photographs has brought 19th Century Newcastle back to...

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters