Caroline Wickham-Jones: Archaeology loses one of its leading lights

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of our friend and colleague, Caroline Wickham-Jones. Caroline was a celebrated archaeologist, author and talented prehistorian. Here in Archaeology at Aberdeen, we remember her generosity - with her time and her knowledge - and her unrelenting enthusiasm for all things archaeological.

Caroline was a good friend to many of us in the Department, as well as an amazing colleague, and was one of our founding members. Indeed, she taught archaeology in Aberdeen through the Centre for Lifelong Learning in the years before the Department was formally established. There she helped to develop the distance teaching and learning programme in Archaeology. When in 2009 she joined the newly-formed Department of Archaeology, as a Lecturer, her commitment to making archaeology accessible for all continued as she ran our distance and flexible learning programmes.

Throughout her teaching career Caroline was also kept busy by her wide range of research projects centred on Scotland’s earliest archaeology. In 2011 she was awarded a prestigious Leverhulme Research Fellowship for ‘The Rising Tide’ project, which focused on sea-level change and the submerged archaeology of Scotland’s coastlines. After her retirement from the University in 2015, Caroline continued to play an active role in Departmental life as an Honorary Researcher, working closely with departmental colleagues on recent projects including recent work on Scotland’s Late Glacial (Ice Age) archaeology. She also co-organised our annual fieldtrip to Orkney, where she made her home. This was a highlight of the academic year for many of us, as well as for our students, and where she would share her love for the archaeology and heritage of Orkney with us.

From her early work on Mesolithic sites on the Isle of Rum to her week spent living in the ‘Stone Age’ in 1980s Lapland, Caroline pushed boundaries in archaeology (and in life) and was never afraid of a challenge. She also believed firmly that Archaeology was for everyone. She was incredibly generous in sharing her experience and insights with students, colleagues and members of the public. In turn, she was always open to (and excited by) new ideas. Throughout her long career, before and after her time in Aberdeen, she also made significant contributions to the wider archaeological and natural environment communities across the country, serving as a Council Member for the Society of Antiquaries (1984-1987), Institute of Field Archaeologists (1986-1990), the Orkney Heritage Society (2018-2021), and as a Trustee for the John Muir Trust (1989-1995), the Orkney Archaeological Trust (2003-2010) and the Caithness Archaeological Trust (2012-2016). Her enormous contributions to the Archaeology of Scotland were recently recognized through her appointment to the Society of Antiquaries as an Honorary Fellow in 2018.

Caroline leaves behind a significant legacy of academic writing and popular books on prehistoric Scotland that have forever influenced how academics and the public alike view Scotland’s deep human past. Her passing leaves a big hole in our Department, in Scottish Archaeology, and in our hearts - she will be deeply missed and fondly remembered.

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Please note, the funeral of the Late Caroline Wickham-Jones will take place at St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, on Saturday 5th of February at 11:00am. Her son, Guille, requests that – in lieu of flowers – donations can be made to charities that were important to Caroline - Guille Lopez is fundraising for CLAN (justgiving.com) and https://www.socantscot.org/support-us/donations-welcome/

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