George Eogan (1930 – 18 November 2021)

Prof. Eogan was the leading Irish archaeologist of his generation, and over many years, a Neolithic and Bronze Age scholar of European and wider renown. His contribution to the discipline of Archaeology, to our understanding of Ireland’s past, and to the careers of many people was and is immeasurable.

Prof. George Eogan was born in Nobber, Co. Meath. He studied at University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin, where he completed his PhD on Late Bronze Age swords in Ireland. He was Professor of Archaeology at the (then) Dept of Archaeology between 1979-95, having been first appointed to UCD as a Lecturer in 1965, and having previously worked as a researcher at Trinity College Dublin, University of Oxford, and Queen's University Belfast.

Professor Eogan, as part of his research into the Neolithic passage tombs of Ireland and western Europe, directed since 1962 over 40 years of archaeological excavations at the Knowth passage tomb, Co. Meath. The Knowth Research Project culminated in the successful publication of a sequence of major monographs on the Neolithic passage tomb and its associated monuments and its multiple phases of prehistoric and medieval use and occupation, including by Prof Eogan, Excavations at Knowth vol. I: Smaller Passage tombs, Neolithic occupation and Beaker activity (RIA, 1984); Excavations at Knowth vol. 2: Settlements and ritual sites of the fourth and third millennium BC (with Helen Roche, 1997); Excavations at Knowth, Co. Meath vol. 5: The archaeology of Knowth in the first and second millennium AD (RIA, 2012) and Excavations at Knowth 6: The Passage Tomb Archaeology of the Great Mound at Knowth (with Kerri Cleary, 2017) and also his popular book, Knowth and the Passage Tombs of Ireland (Thames and Hudson). The final RIA monograph on Knowth, entitled Excavations at Knowth 7: The megalithic art of the passage tombs at Knowth, County Meath is currently being printed and will be published in Spring 2022.

Prof George Eogan was a key and leading scholar of Bronze Age Europe, with a particular focus on its extensive assemblages of metalwork of bronze and gold. He used his extensive international travels and decades of connections with museums to develop a unique understanding and insights into the things of Bronze Age Europe in particular. This enabled him to see and pursue cultural and technological connections in the past that few scholars could achieve. His Bronze Age publications are foundational to any understanding of Bronze Age material culture in Ireland, and beyond. His books include Catalogue of Irish Bronze Swords (1965), The Hoards of the Irish Later Bronze Age (1983); The Accomplished Art: Gold and Gold-working in Britain and Ireland during the Bronze Age (1994) and The Socketed Bronze Axes in Ireland (2000). His numerous journal papers are too lengthy to enumerate and describe, but students of Irish prehistory will remember ‘The Later Bronze Age in Ireland in the light of recent research’ (Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 1964), ‘The lock-rings of the Late Bronze Age’ (Antiquity 1969); ‘Megalithic art and society’ (Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 1999), amongst many others.

Notable too was his faithfulness to local and regional journals, writing papers that were accessible to those beyond academia, including the Meath journal, Riocht na Midhe. Long proud of his Meath background, he was a regular attendee of Gaelic games at Croke Park, Indeed, he was named as ‘Meath Personality of the Year’ in 2003. In 2016, the George Eogan Cultural & Heritage Centre was opened at Nobber, Co Meath by President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins in honour of the town’s own native archaeologist, Professor Eogan.

Prof Eogan was truly an international archaeologist with extensive field and museums experience in Ireland and abroad. He worked with Kathleen Kenyon at Jericho, and also worked on the Neolithic passage tomb of Fourknocks (which he brought to publication) and at the Mound of the Hostages, Tara excavations in the 1950s. Professor Eogan taught, trained and mentored numerous Irish archaeologists, who themselves have gone on to enhance the study of prehistoric Ireland in particular. His mentorship of fellow field archaeologists was to lead to John Bradley’s excavations at Moynagh Lough crannog, near Nobber, Co. Meath, and to Muiris O’Sullivan’s excavations at the Neolithic passage tomb at Knockroe, Co. Kilkenny, while both Eoin Grogan’s and Helen Roche’s careers, amongst many others, as leading archaeologists of Bronze Age Ireland began under Prof Eogan’s mentorship. In recognition of his career and achievements, his colleagues edited a book in his honour, entitled From Megaliths to Metals: Essays in Honour of George Eogan (Oxbow Books, 2004).

Throughout his university career he could be seen cycling from his home in Rathgar to University College Dublin in all weathers. He was a memorable teacher. Generations of UCD students will remember his famous jokes, passed down by students from class to class so that when he uttered them, his students knew what to expect and greatly enjoyed his own enjoyment of them (e.g. Question: “Now class, who can spell ‘Waldalgesheim sword’? His own Answer “Sword” whereupon he would break into his distinctive chuckles). Diggers at Knowth will remember meeting him first in the hot days of summer, as a figure emerging from the billowing smoke of his burning of the grass at the excavations site.

His leadership in Irish archaeology and heritage was recognised by his appointment by An Taoiseach, Charles J. Haughey as an Independent Senator to Seanad Eireann (1987-89). Prof Eogan was also appointed as the founding Chairman of the Discovery Programme in 1991. He was highly influential through his agenda-setting book, The Discovery Programme: Initiation, consolidation and development (1997) in the design of its first research programmes, notably the Tara Project, the North Munster Project, the Western Stone Forts Project and the Ballyhoura Hills Project.

Throughout his career, Prof Eogan received many prestigious honours. He was a Member of the Royal Irish Academy (MRIA), a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA), a Member of Academia Europa, and an Honorary Member of the German Archaeological Institute. He was also formerly during his career a member of Council and Vice President of the Prehistoric Society, a member of the National Monuments Advisory Council (Republic of Ireland), and of the Historic Monuments Council (Northern Ireland). He was member of both Council and Executive of the International Union of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences (IUPPS), Liege. He served on the Archaeology Committee of the European Science Foundation (ESF), the Higher Education Committee of the Council of Europe, the Council of the Royal Irish Academy, and the Irish Folklore Commission. He was awarded the Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal in the Humanities in 2007.

However, there are few archaeologists whose work has been celebrated in songs. Prof George Eogan is key to as many as three generationally-famous songs composed by the late Tom Delaney, including ‘George Eogan’, ‘The Knowth Troweler’ (sung to the tune of the Bard of Armagh) and ‘The Department Line’.

We will not see his like again.

UCD School of Archaeology extends its deepest sympathies to his wife Fiona, his children James, Maeve, Deirdre, Clíona, his wider family, friends and many colleagues.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

The editors are grateful to Prof. Aidan O’Sullivan for permission to reprint this memoriam, which he originally wrote for the UCD School of Archaeology website and to Ken Williams for permission to use the above photograph (

George Eogan

George Eogan (Photo with permission from Ken Williams)

Marie Zápotocká (6 June 1931 – 30 October 2021)

Marie Zápotocká (née Steklá) came from a farming family based in Kánín by Poděbrady. She was admitted to the prehistory seminar of professor Jan Filip at the Charles University Prague after only two years of teaching practice in Kněžice, which she underwent after graduation at the grammar school in Kolín. She studied archaeology from 1951-1956 in a class which came to be nicknamed the “Class of Classics.” As a student in this class, she was assigned the topic of relative chronology of the Stroked Pottery Culture. She began with the analysis of the chronologically most important find assemblage that was known at the time: the cremation burial ground at Praha – Bubeneč, which had already been explored before WWII. At the same time, she studied the classification of the stylistic-technical evolution of the vessel decoration of this culture. Zápotocká developed both topics over her long-term scientific work thanks to her natural ability to sense the prehistoric decoration aesthetic and her outstanding personal intuition for assessing prehistoric pottery.

Zápotocká divided her time between her family - she raised two children - and her scientific work. The latter began in 1956 when she started working in the archive of the Institute of Archaeology CAS in Prague, and ended when she retired as emeritus scholar of the Academy of Sciences.

Her scientific work includes archaeological field work and theoretical publications. She used to spend several months each year in the field, first as assistant to B. Soudský at the research excavation in Bylany by Kutná Hora (1955-1967), and later at her own excavation of the Neolithic bi-ritual cemetery in Miskovice (1975-1979) and as deputy to M. Zápotocký at his excavation of the Chalcolithic Denemark hillfort by Kutná Hora (1980-1989). Her role in the field was an example for younger colleagues. She was instrumental in preparing multiple site reports as well as five volumes of Neolithic finds catalogue from Bylany.

Scholarly publications by Marie Zápotocká are wide-ranging with an overall focus on the processing of Neolithic burial grounds (Praha-Bubeneč 1956; Miskovice and Plotiště nad Labem 1998; a burial ground in Rhineland 1972). A monograph on burial rites in the late Neolithic (1998) summarises the results of these studies. Another theme within her work includes publications of settlement complexes, in collaboration with other colleagues (Bylany – thesis 1986; Bylany - rondel 1995; Denemark monograph 2008), as well as several regional registers, from Rakovník (1992) through to Litoměřice (2009). In a shorter paper (Archeologické rozhledy 1978), Zápotocká taught European archaeologists the system for correctly recording stroked pottery decoration. Multiple studies cover the results of this classification, periodization and interpretation of the Neolithic in Central Europe up to a final synthesis (2003). Zápotocká was active in organising international Czech-Bavarian archaeological group cooperations (1990-1997). She was appointed corresponding member of the German Archaeological Institute (1988) and awarded a prize "za wybitny wklad w badania nad neolitem Europy srodkowej" (“for outstanding input into the research of the Central European Neolithic”; Lodž 2008).

Her scholarly publications seldom include reference to archaeological paradigms. Zápotocká’s work can be rather classified as belonging to the category designated – sometimes with little esteem – as empirical archaeology. At present, we would rather say that she very responsibly and consistently always concluded her projects with publications, most often by monograph. These presented large amounts of data and information important for European archaeology, as evidenced through references in her successors’ works. She navigated with honour through the pitfalls of different paradigmatic theories, the promotion of which in archaeology proved unsubstantiated to the least. She lived to see the so-called post-paradigmatic period, and bequeathed to European archaeologists her work, which became part of the archaeology of the longue durée.

Prof. I. Pavlů / 14 January 2022 Translated by Sylvie Květinová

Marie Zápotocká

Marie Zápotocká (Photo with permission from I. Pavlů)

Caroline Wickham-Jones

With great shock and numbing sadness we learned that on the 14th of January archaeologist Caroline Wickham-Jones passed away.

Caroline, a great supporter of the Ness and Orkney’s archaeology as a whole, will be sorely missed and our heartfelt condolences go to her family and her many friends.

A specialist in the Stone Age, Caroline studied archaeology at the University of Edinburgh before undertaking a second degree, in Heritage Management, at the University of Birmingham. After a distinguished career in excavation, experimental archaeology and lecturing, which took her all over the world, she moved to Orkney.

Here, in the shadow of Wideford Hill, just outside Kirkwall, she worked as a consultant archaeologist as well as continuing her extensive research.

The author of a series of papers and books, Caroline was also involved in numerous projects and maintained a blog on matters archaeological.

Caroline was truly a grand doyenne of British archaeology. Always welcoming and always smiling, she was always up for a discussion or debate, over a cup of tea, by her fireside. Her passing will be felt by all, in Orkney and beyond, and with a deep sorrow by the team at Ness of Brodgar HQ.

The editors are grateful to The Ness of Brodgar Trust for allowing for permission to reprint this memoriam, which can be found online here, and to Lesley Macinnes for permission to use the above photo.

Caroline Wickham-Jones

Caroline Wickham-Jones (Photo by Lesley Macinnes)