by Charlie Taverner and Rowena Caine
A Durham University archaeology professor was made a dame in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Professor Rosemary Cramp, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Archaelogy, was one of just eight women awarded a DBE (Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire), when the list was announced on 11th June. Professor Cramp was awarded the honour in recognition of her services to scholarship. Her research has focused particularly on Anglo-Saxon stone sculpture and the archaeology of medieval northern England.
The professor reflected on her achievement: “It would be difficult not to feel pleased and honoured, but if these awards mean anything it is because they reflect a wide range of contacts and support, and here I include the support which the University has given to my work over a very long time.”
Joining a department that did not officially exist until 1956, the year after she joined, must have been a strange position to be in. Up until then, the Archaeology Department was based in a small hut which stood where Hatfield College’s tennis courts are now situated. Professor Cramp helped to expand the Department from simply a Roman and Anglo-Saxon base to cover all periods. She was integral to building up the department’s current esteemed reputation.
She trained five Emeritus Professors during her time at Durham as well as many senior academics and individuals who are now important figures in the commercial and public sectors of archaeology today.
In 1971, Professor Cramp became the first female professor at the University, and still is committed to expanding the number of women within the academic field of archaeology. She retired in 1990 after 35 years of dedicated teaching.
Although she was a Trustee of the British Museum, and a Commissioner for English Heritage, she has maintained her involvement with Durham University alongside her work.
She established The Rosemary Cramp Fund to give grants to groups or individuals proposing innovative research into the archaeology of the British Isles AD 400-1100. This funding is vital for Durham postgraduates.
Professor Cramp’s work, although largely focusing on the archaeology of Anglo-Saxon Northumbria, also spawned a groundbreaking project: the Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture. This work has since been followed up by scholars in France and Italy.
Her retirement has not diminished her standing in the archaeological community. She retains many roles including the Presidency of Durham and Northumberland Architectural and Archaeological Society (2000-2003), membership of the Management Group leading the Wearmouth and Jarrow bid for World Heritage Status (2009) and membership of the steering group for Bede’s World, Jarrow.
Professor Cramp also continues to work in Durham University’s Archaeology Department, representing it on the international and national stage.
“One of the greatest joys though has been the number of old students who have written and e-mailed to say what they remembered about my teaching and excavations,” Professor Cramp explained. “Some were from the beginning of my Durham career and they are spread throughout the world.”
The North East enjoyed further success in the honours list. Popular singer, Bryan Ferry, originally from Washington, Wearside, was awarded a CBE for services to music. Before becoming the frontman of the iconic band Roxy Music, Ferry studied fine art at Newcastle University.
The main headline in the list was recognition for television entertainer, Bruce Forsythe. The 83-year-old presenter of Strictly Come Dancing was knighted following an extensive public campaign including a petition by MPs.