With a mixture of personal and archaeological anecdotes, this short book gives a real insight into the life and studies of Brenda Swinbank. As a woman researching in a very male-dominated field, the support she received from more established scholars is a credit to her work. Despite this support, she struggled to get a permanent academic job. Perhaps things were not so different 60 years ago…!
The lack of an academic job did not quash Brenda’s interest in archaeology. Her perseverance in untangling the York Minster material is a good demonstration of her methodical way of working and her detailed understanding of the archaeological story. She never gave up on publishing her PhD, with papers in 2008 and 2010 bringing to the fore her important work on the vallum of Hadrian’s Wall.
The pictures included in this book are a lovely touch, but it would have been nice if they had been bigger. Still, overall this is a fitting tribute to a scholar not often remembered or appreciated outside a small group of Hadrian’s Wall scholars.
This review appeared in CA 338.