W. F. Grimes

William Francis Grimes CBE (known as Peter; 31 October 1905 – 25 December 1988) was a Welsh archaeologist. He devoted his career to the archaeology of London and the prehistory of Wales. He was awarded a CBE in 1955.[1]

W. F. Grimes

W. F. Grimes
Born31 October 1905
Died25 December 1988 (aged 83)
EducationBedford Modern School
Alma materUniversity College of South Wales and Monmouthshire

Early life

Grimes was born in Pembroke in Wales. His father was a draughtsman with the Pembroke docks board. He was educated at Pembroke county school and then at Bedford Modern School[2] after his father moved to Bedford to work as a draughtsman on airships.

Grimes returned to Wales in 1923 to study Latin at the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire in Cardiff, where his lecturers included Mortimer Wheeler and Cyril Fox. Wheeler was also Keeper and then from 1923 Director of the National Museum of Wales. Grimes graduated with first-class honours in 1926.


Wheeler moved to become Director of the London Museum in 1926, and Cyril Fox replaced him as Director of the National Museum of Wales. Grimes became an assistant keeper of archaeology at the National Museum of Wales, working with the newly appointed keeper of archaeology, Victor Erle Nash-Williams. He received an MA from the University of Wales in 1930 for a dissertation on the Roman pottery from the 20th Legion's works at Holt (then in Denbighshire). He became interested in the prehistory of Wales, and was involved in excavations at Pyle, Ludchurch, Corston Beacon and Llanboidy.

Grimes became a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1934. He published a book on the prehistory of Wales in 1939, Guide to the Collection Illustrating the Prehistory of Wales, which won the Cambrian Archaeological Association's G. T. Clark prize in 1949. The book was republished as The Prehistory of Wales in 1951, and a second edition followed in 1959. He met Mrs Audrey Williams in 1935, while preparing an exhibition in Swansea for the centenary of the Royal Institution of South Wales. They went on to work together at many excavations in Wales and elsewhere, and were later married.

Grimes moved to Southampton in 1938 to become an assistant archaeology officer with the Ordnance Survey, and was quickly involved in the excavation of the newly discovered ship burial at Sutton Hoo the following year. He was seconded to the Ministry of Works in the Second World War, and worked with Audrey Williams on quick surveys and excavations before the construction of new airfields and other military structures. His discoveries included an Iron Age religious site at Heathrow.

In 1945, he succeeded Mortimer Wheeler as director of the London Museum, then based in Lancaster House. He was involved in the programme to excavate Blitz sites in London before they were redeveloped. For this work, he received the freedom of the City of London in 1952. A highlight was the excavation of the London Mithraeum, discovered at a building site at Walbrook in 1954 with features in the Illustrated London News illustrated with drawings by Alan Sorrell.

The unexpected discovery of a bust of Mithras on the last scheduled day of the excavation generated considerable press and public interest, debates in Parliament and discussion in the Cabinet. The excavation was extended, allowing further discoveries to be made, but delaying the construction. Although Bucklersbury House was built over the site, Grimes succeeded in salvaging many of its finds and features including marble statuary attesting to the wealth of its congregation. The temple was reconstructed nearby in the 1960s, but the work was not supervised by archaeologists and Grimes was dismissive of the result.

Grimes was appointed CBE in 1955. He continued his excavations in London after he succeeded V. Gordon Childe as director of the Institute of Archaeology and professor of archaeology at the University of London in 1956 (Wheeler had founded the Institute in 1937, and Childe became director after Wheeler resigned in 1946). While Grimes was its director, the Institute moved from St John's Lodge in Regent's Park to new premises at Gordon Square.

Grimes remained interested in the archaeology of Wales. He received an honorary DLitt from the University of Wales in 1961, and was president of the Cambrian Archaeological Association in 1963–64. He served on many commissions and committees with a variety of official bodies and archaeological societies and organisations, including the Society of Antiquaries, the Royal Archaeological Institute, and the Council for British Archaeology. He was a member of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales for 30 years from 1948, also serving a period as chairman, and joined the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England in 1964. He retired from both commissions in 1978. Between 1975 and 1988 he served as the first chairman of the Dyfed Archaeological Trust.

Private life

Grimes married a childhood friend Barbara Lilian Morgan in 1928. They had two children. They were divorced in 1959, and he became the third husband of Audrey Williams. She bestowed on him the nickname Peter. They retired to her home in Brynmill in Swansea in 1973. After Audrey died in 1978, he was remarried to Mrs Molly Waverley Sholto Douglas in 1980.

He suffered from Parkinson's disease in later life, and died at home in Swansea. He was cremated, and his ashes were scattered at Pwlldu Bay on the Gower Peninsula, where the ashes of his second wife Audrey had also been scattered.

Published works

  • The Megalithic Monuments of Wales, Cardiff: National Museum of Wales, 1936.
  • The Prehistory of Wales, Cardiff: National Museum of Wales, 1951.
  • Grimes, W. F. (January 1955). "The Council for British Archaeology: The First Decade". The Archaeological News Letter. Linden Publicity. 5 (8): 139–145.
  • "Excavations in the City of London", in Bruce-Mitford, R. L. S. (ed.) Recent Archaeological Excavations in Britain, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1956.
  • The Excavation of Roman and Mediaeval London, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968.

See also


  1. ^ "Who's Who 1980", Published by A&C Black Limited 1980
  2. ^ "Bedford Modern School of the Black And Red", by Andrew Underwood 1981

External links

1905 in archaeology

The year 1905 in archaeology involved some significant events.

1936 in Wales

This article is about the particular significance of the year 1936 to Wales and its people.

1936 in archaeology

The year 1936 in archaeology involved some significant events.

1945 in archaeology

The year 1945 in archaeology involved some significant events.

1951 in archaeology

The year 1951 in archaeology involved some significant events.

1954 in archaeology

The year 1954 in archaeology involved some significant events.

1956 in archaeology

The year 1956 in archaeology involved some significant events.

1988 in Wales

This article is about the particular significance of the year 1988 to Wales and its people.

1988 in archaeology

The year 1988 in archaeology involved some significant events.

Audrey Williams (archaeologist)

Audrey Williams or Audrey Davies (1902 – 1978) was a Welsh archaeologist. She was the first woman president of the Royal Institution of South Wales.

Grimes (surname)

Grimes is a surname that is believed to be of a Scandinavian, English, or Irish descent, and may refer to:

Alison Lundergan Grimes (b. 1978), Kentucky Secretary of State

Aoibhinn Grimes (b. 1976), former field hockey forward from Canada

Ashley Grimes (disambiguation), multiple people

Barbara Grimes (d. 1957), teenage American murder victim - see Murder of the Grimes sisters

Brent Grimes (b. 1983), American football player

Bryan Grimes (1828–1880), major general in the Confederate Army during the U.S. Civil War

Burleigh Grimes (1893–1985), American baseball player

Camryn Grimes (b. 1990), American actress

Charles Grimes (surveyor) (1772–1858), English surveyor

Charles Grimes (rower) (1935–2007), American Olympic rower

Christopher M. Grimes (b. 1948), artist from Bermuda

Connor Grimes (b. 1983), American field hockey player

David Grimes (Alabama politician) (b. c. 1953), American politician

David Robert Grimes, (b. 1985), Irish physicist and cancer researcher

Edward Grimes (b. 1991), one of the twin performers in the duo known as Jedward (along with John Grimes)

Frank Grimes (actor) (b. 1947), Irish actor

Gary Grimes (b. 1955), American actor

Grimes (musician) (b. 1988), stage name of the Canadian musician Claire Elise Boucher

Henry Grimes (b. 1935), American jazz musician

Jack Grimes (disambiguation), multiple people

James W. Grimes (1816–1872), American politician

Jason Grimes (b. 1959), American long jumper

Jesse Grimes (1788–1866), Texas pioneer and politician of Grimes County Texas

John Grimes (disambiguation), multiple people

Joseph Rudolph Grimes (1923–2007), Liberian Secretary of State; Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law founder

Karolyn Grimes (b. 1940), American actress

Louis Arthur Grimes (1883–1948), tenth Chief Justice of Liberia

Ken Grimes (b. 1947), American artist

Mark Grimes, Toronto City Councillor

Mark Grimes, Dublin's most beautiful person 2016

Martha Grimes (b. 1931), American writer of detective fiction

Oscar Grimes, Jr. (1915–1993), utility infielder in Major League Baseball

Patricia Grimes (d. 1957), teenage American murder victim - see Murder of the Grimes sisters

Paul Grimes (criminal) (b. 1950), former Liverpudlian gangster who became and informant in a witness protection program

Paul Grimes (public servant), contemporary senior Australian public servant and former Secretary of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture

Phil Grimes (1929–1989), Irish hurler

Ray Grimes, Sr. (1893–1953), first baseman in Major League Baseball

Roger Grimes (b. 1950), Canadian politician

Roy Grimes (1893–1954), second baseman in Major League Baseball

Sarah Grimes, musician in the band September Girls

Scott Grimes (b. 1971), American actor

Shenae Grimes (b. 1989), Canadian-American actress

Steve Grimes, contemporary member of the British band The Farm

Stuart Grimes (b. 1974), former Scottish international rugby player and captain

Tammy Grimes (1934–2016), American actress and singer

Tiny Grimes (1916–1989), American jazz and R&B guitarist

Vic Grimes (b. 1970), American professional wrestler

W. F. Grimes (1905–1988), British archaeologistFictional characters:

Frank Grimes, a character from The Simpsons Season 8 episode "Homer's Enemy"

John Grimes, the hero of a series of science fiction novels by A. Bertram Chandler

John Grimes, in the film Black Hawk Down

Morgan Grimes, major character on the television series Chuck

Muddy and Dallas Grimes, villains of the film Beavis and Butt-Head Do America

Rick Grimes, protagonist in the comic book and television series The Walking Dead

Lori Grimes, his wife

Carl Grimes, their son

Sarah Grimes in Welcome Home (2015 film)

London Mithraeum

The London Mithraeum, also known as the Temple of Mithras, Walbrook, is a Roman mithraeum that was discovered in Walbrook, a street in the City of London, during a building's construction in 1954. The entire site was relocated to permit continued construction and this temple of the mystery god Mithras became perhaps the most famous 20th-century Roman discovery in London.

Modern archaeology

Modern archaeology is the discipline of archaeology which contributes to excavations.Johann Joachim Winckelmann was one of the founders of scientific archaeology and first applied the categories of style on a large, systematic basis to the history of art. He was "the prophet and founding hero of modern archaeology". The next major figure in the development of archaeology was Mortimer Wheeler, whose highly disciplined approach to excavation and systematic coverage in the 1920s and 1930s brought the science into the modern era. Wheeler developed the grid system of excavation, which was further improved on by his student Kathleen Kenyon. The two constant themes in their attempts to improve archaeological excavation were first, to maintain strict stratigraphic control while excavating (for this purpose, the baulks between trenches served to retain a record of the strata that had been dug through), and second, to publish a record of the excavation promptly and in a form that would tell the story of the site to the intelligent reader.

Bomb damage during the Second World War and subsequent rebuilding gave archaeologists the opportunity to meaningfully examine inhabited cities for the first time. Bombed sites provided windows onto the development of European cities whose pasts had been buried beneath working buildings. Urban archaeology necessitated a new approach as centuries of human occupation had created deep layers of stratigraphy that could often only be seen through the keyholes of individual building plots. In Britain, post-war archaeologists such as W. F. Grimes and Martin Biddle took the initiative in studying this previously unexamined area and developed the archaeological methods now employed in much cultural resource management and rescue archaeology.Archaeology increasingly became a professional activity during the first half of the 20th century. Although the bulk of an excavation's workforce would still consist of volunteers, it would normally be led by a professional. It was now possible to study archaeology as a subject in universities and other schools, and by the end of the 20th century nearly all professional archaeologists, at least in developed countries, were graduates of such programs.

Ralph Merrifield

Ralph Merrifield (22 August 1913 – 9 January 1995) was an English museum curator and archaeologist. Described as "the father of London's modern archaeology", Merrifield was a specialist in both the archaeology of Roman London and the archaeology of magical practices, publishing six books on these subjects over the course of his life.

Born in Temple Fortune, London, Merrifield grew up in Brighton, Sussex. He began his archaeological career in 1930 as an assistant to the curator of Brighton Museum, H. S. Toms. In 1935, he gained an external degree in anthropology from the University of London.

During the Second World War he served in the Royal Air Force, and in 1950 he became assistant keeper of the Guildhall Museum in London. In 1956, he relocated to Accra to organise the opening of the new National Museum of Ghana, before returning to work at the Guildhall Museum the following year. While working there, he produced a synthesis of known material on the archaeology of Roman London, published as The Roman City of London in 1965.

In 1975 the Guildhall Museum was amalgamated with the London Museum to create the new Museum of London. Merrifield was appointed senior keeper, and soon after was promoted to deputy director. He retired in 1978 but remained active within the archaeological community, travelling the country to give public lectures and publishing The Archaeology of Ritual and Magic in 1987 as well as further studies of Roman London. He was a keen supporter of the Standing Conference on London Archaeology, a body designed to monitor the impact that English Heritage was having on the city's archaeology, which he believed to be negative.

Royal Archaeological Institute

The Royal Archaeological Institute (RAI) is a learned society, established in 1844, with interests in all aspects of the archaeological, architectural and landscape history of the British Isles. Membership is open to all with an interest in these areas.

Scratchbury Camp

Scratchbury Camp is the site of an Iron Age univallate hillfort located on Scratchbury Hill, near the village of Norton Bavant in Wiltshire, England. The fort covers an area of 37 acres (15 ha) and occupies the summit of the hill on the edge of Salisbury Plain, with its four-sided shape largely following the natural contours of the hill.

The Iron Age hillfort dates to around 100 BC, but contains the remains of an earlier and smaller D-shaped enclosure or camp. The age of this earlier earthwork is currently subject to debate, and has been variously interpreted due to the inconclusive and incomplete nature of previous and differing excavation records; it may be early Iron Age dating to around 250 BC, but it has also been interpreted as being Bronze Age, dating to around 2000 BC.There are seven tumuli located within the enclosure of the fort, which were excavated in the 19th century by Sir Richard Colt Hoare and William Cunnington. Finds from excavations at that time included relics of bone, pottery, flint, brass, and amber jewellery, most of which can be seen today at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes. Other items of interest have been found in and around the site including Roman artefacts and neolithic flint and jade axe heads.The site is listed on Wiltshire Council's Sites and Monuments Record with number ST94SW200, and is also a scheduled monument number SM10213. The hillfort falls within a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest, designated as Scratchbury & Cotley Hills SSSI, which encompasses a total of 53.5 hectares (132 acres), being first SSSI notified in 1951.

Society of Antiquaries of London

The Society of Antiquaries of London (SAL) is a learned society "charged by its Royal Charter of 1751 with 'the encouragement, advancement and furtherance of the study and knowledge of the antiquities and history of this and other countries'." It is based at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London (a building owned by the UK government), and is a registered charity.

UCL Institute of Archaeology

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is an academic department of the Social & Historical Sciences Faculty of University College London (UCL), England which it joined in 1986. It is currently one of the largest centres for the study of archaeology, cultural heritage and museum studies in the world, with over 100 members of staff and 600 students housed in a 1950s building on the north side of Gordon Square in the Bloomsbury area of Central London.

William Grimes

William Grimes may refer to:

William C. Grimes (1857–1931), American politician and businessman

William Grimes (journalist) (born 1959), former restaurant critic and current obituary writer for The New York Times

W. F. Grimes (1905–1988), Welsh archaeologist

William Grimes (footballer) (1886–?), English professional footballer for Bradford City and Derby County

William Grimes (ex-slave) (1784–1865), author of what is considered the first narrative of an American ex-slave, Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave

William P. Grimes (1868–1939), American politician in Wisconsin

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