Obituary: Professor Anne Robertson

Article excerpt

Anne Strachan Robertson, archaeologist, numismatist and writer: born Glasgow 3 May 1910; FSA 1958; Reader in Roman Archaeology, Glasgow University 1964-74, Titular Professor of Roman Archaeology 1974-75; Keeper of Cultural Collections and of the Hunter Coin Cabinet, Hunterian Museum 1964-74; FRSE 1975; died Glasgow 4 October 1997.

Anne Robertson was a living link with the pioneers of archaeological research. Her own rich contribution owed much to the influence of Sir George Macdonald, who dominated Romano-British studies between the world wars. From him she imbibed the patience in noting details and the dispassionate weighing of evidence that Macdonald had so admired in Francis Haverfield, an earlier giant in the field. With this inheritance, allied to her own pertinacity, it is not surprising that she achieved such eminence.

She was best known as a numismatist and Keeper of the Hunterian Coin Cabinet at Glasgow University, winning international recognition with the publication in 1960 of the Sylloge of Anglo-Saxon Coins in the Glasgow collections, and becoming Medallist of the Royal Numismatic Society four years later. Between 1962 and 1982 she produced the five-volume Catalogue of Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunterian Coin Cabinet, the greatest single monument to her life's work, but the fruit of her researches is also evident in numerous occasional papers and meticulous, site-specific coin reports prepared for colleagues' publications. Yet Robertson was no armchair archaeologist: from 1937 her interest in Roman Scotland led her to excavation, and for several years she was the only professional actively engaged in fieldwork on monuments of the period. From exploratory work at Castledykes fort, near Carstairs, she turned to the Antonine Wall, the turf-built Roman frontier on the Forth-Clyde isthmus. It was with this internationally important monument that she was identified for the rest of her working life, presiding over its artefactual remains in the Hunterian Museum, and initiating in 1960 the classic guide book The Antonine Wall, subsequently reprinted and revised, but never superseded. The daughter of two Glasgow teachers, she was educated at Hillhead High School and Glasgow School for Girls. At Glasgow University she was deeply impressed by S.N. Miller's teaching of Roman History, and in 1930 won the Cowan Medal, and the approval of Sir George Macdonald, then Honorary Keeper of the Hunterian Coin Cabinet. After a period in London, where she studied archaeology and gained invaluable experience in the Coin Room of the British Museum, she returned to Glasgow University as the Dalrymple Lecturer in Archaeology. In 1952 she became Under-Keeper of the Hunterian Museum and Curator of the Hunter Coin Cabinet. In 1964 she was promoted to a Readership and appointed Keeper of the Cultural Collections, being awarded a DLitt in 1965. A year before her retirement in 1975, she was made titular Professor of Archaeology and elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, one of the first archaeologists to be so honoured. She was by then already a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and of London, as well as of the Royal Numismatic Society. …