Geoff Egan

Archaeologist. Born 19 October 1951; died 24 December 2010
Geoff Egan was a key member of the Finds Research Group for many years, and his untimely death in 2010 at the age of 59 robbed us not only of a fine medieval and later small finds specialist but also of a great friend, colleague and mentor.

After graduation in 1975 from Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he studied archaeology and anthropology, he obtained a job at the Museum of London Archaeology Service and stayed there for the majority of his career, first as a fieldwork director, and subsequently as a finds specialist. There, Geoff was heavily involved in producing the series Medieval Finds from Excavations in London, still an essential reference series for medieval finds specialists; he was the author of Volume 6 The Medieval Household (1998) and co-author of Volume 3 Dress Accessories (1991, with Frances Pritchard). He also wrote Material Culture in London in an Age of Transition: Tudor and Stuart Period Finds from Southwark (2005).

One of Geoff’s particular interests was in medieval and later lead alloy cloth seals; he recognised that the locations where these are found could be very informative about the cloth trade, which at one time was a major source of England's prosperity. In his new book 'Textile Manufacture, Taxation and Trade in Late- and Post-Medieval Durham City,' Finds Research Group Committee member Gary Bankhead acknowledges the huge influence Geoff had on his own career:

"Finally, a special mention must go to the late Geoff Egan to whom this book is dedicated in memory of. In September 2010, in his role as a National Finds Advisor on Early Medieval to Post-Medieval Objects for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Geoff travelled to Durham to help identify some of the first cloth seals that I had found. It is through my brief exposure to his incredible knowledge of small finds, along with his willingness to share it with others, that inspired me to complete this research on the Durham City lead cloth seal collection – research that Geoff had asked to undertake himself before his tragic, untimely death."

Geoff also had a long association with the Portable Antiquities Scheme, having a part-time role from 2004, and being appointed as a full-time finds adviser for the scheme just months before his death.

For many of us, Geoff was the perfect example of a finds specialist, generous with his advice and help with researchers at all stages of their careers, and always keen to share his knowledge. The Geoff Egan prize seems to us to be a great way to celebrate his contribution to archaeological finds research, which we are certain he would have appreciated.

See also:

Guardian Obituory: Archaeologist who brought the mudlarks in from the cold (by Roger Bland, published online 9 Feb 2011).

Geoff Egan: A Tribute (by Annemarieke Willemsen, published in Post-Medieval Archaeology 45/2 (2011), 337–349).