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Obituary: Henry Cleere (1926-2018)

Dr Henry Cleere received an honorary degree in a special ceremony at Michelham Priory.

An archaeologist of international repute who received an honorary doctorate from the University of Sussex 25 years ago has died at the age of 91.

Dr Henry Cleere, who died on 24 August, made an enormous contribution to the development of archaeology and local history in Sussex, particularly through his studies of the Roman iron industry in the Weald of Sussex.

First published in 1985, his book The lron lndustry of the Weald (co-authored with David Crossley), is described by the Wealden Iron Research Group (WIRG) as “the most authoritative guide to the lost iron industry of the Weald of southern England”.

Dr Cleere also edited two major works on heritage management: Approaches to the Archaeological Heritage (1984) – which presented archaeological heritage in a comparative, international context for the first time – and Archaeological Heritage Management in the Modern World (1989).

He did some teaching for the University’s Centre for Continuing Education (CCE) and was President of the Sussex Archaeological Society from 1987-92.

It was fitting, then, that the award in 1993 of the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters took place at a special graduation ceremony at Michelham Priory, one of the prime properties owned by the Society. 

Dr Cleere's daughter Jo recalls: "I have happy memories of that day at Michelham Priory. He was extremely proud and we all felt the colour yellow suited him very well!" 

Prior to his involvement with the Sussex Archaeological Society, Dr Cleere had been Director of the Council for British Archaeology.

His earlier career was in the iron and steel industry; after switching to archaeology, he obtained his PhD in 1980 at the Institute of Archaeology of University College London (where he was Honorary Professor of Archaeological Heritage Management from 1998).

From 1992-2002, Dr Cleere spent 11 years in Paris as World Heritage Coordinator for the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), evaluating several hundred cultural properties nominated to the World Heritage List in more than 70 countries.

This work brought him international recognition. A founder member and first Secretary General of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA), Dr Cleere was the recipient of its European Archaeological Heritage Prize in 2002.

He was then a consultant on the management aspects of world heritage and other urban and archaeological sites in a number of countries, including Bahrain, China, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Oman, Tunisia and Ukraine.

In 2010 he received the annual Conservation and Heritage Management Award of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), which pronounced him “one of the founding figures of the conservation field”.

  • His family will be celebrating the life of Henry Cleere at 2pm on Monday 10 September at Kent & Sussex crematorium, Benhall Mill Road, Royal Tunbridge Wells TN2 5JJ. Friends and colleagues are invited to the informal service and to share stories afterwards in a nearby venue (TBA). There is no dress code, but something cheerful or colourful, ("just like Henry"), might be appropriate. Contact Liz Cleere for more information and to RSVP.


Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Monday, 3 September 2018


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