Malcolm Todd

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Malcolm Todd
Malcolm Todd.jpg
Born(1939-11-27)27 November 1939
Died6 June 2013(2013-06-06) (aged 73)
Exeter, England
Molly Tanner
(m. 1964)
Academic background
Alma mater
Academic advisors
InfluencesE. A. Thompson
Academic work
Sub-disciplineClassical archaeology
Main interests
Notable works
  • The Northern Barbarians (1975)
  • Roman Britain (1980)
  • The Early Germans (1992)

Malcolm Todd FSA (27 November 1939 – 6 June 2013) was an English classical archaeologist. Throughout his career, Todd was a professor at the University of Nottingham and the University of Exeter, and Principal of Trevelyan College, Durham. He specialized in the archaeology of Roman Britain and the Germanic peoples in the Migration Period, on which the was the author of numerous influential works.

Early life and education[edit]

Malcolm Todd was born in Durham, England on 27 November 1939, the son of Wilfrid Todd and Rose Evelyn Johnson.[1] Durham was at the time a characteristic mining and farming community, and his father was a miner.[2]

Todd went to grammar school in Hartlepool. Encouraged by his father, who did not want his son to become a miner, Todd received his BA and BLitt in classics from St David's College, Lampeter, and a diploma in classical archaeology from Brasenose College, Oxford in 1963. Among his teachers at Oxford were Ian Richmond.[2]

Early career[edit]

During his studies, Todd became strongly interested in the archaeology of the Rhine provinces of the Roman Empire, and from 1963 to 1965 he worked as a research assistant at Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn under Harald von Petrikovits [de].[2][3]

Since 1965, Todd was Lecturer (1965-1974), Senior Lecturer (1974-1977) and Reader (1977-1979) in Archaeology at the University of Nottingham.[1][3] While at Nottingham, Todd carried out excavations at Ancaster, Margidunum and medieval Newark-on-Trent.[2][4] Todd became a Corresponding Member of the German Archaeological Institute in 1977.[3] Todd was Visiting Professor at New York University in 1979.[2]

Career at the University of Exeter[edit]

Ramparts inside the hillfort at Hembury, where Todd conducted pioneering archaeological excavations.

In 1979, Todd was appointed Professor of Archaeology at the University of Exeter. He was the first archaeologist appointed a professor at Exeter since the teaching of archaeology had been established there some years earlier under Aileen Fox.[2] While at Exeter, Todd specialized in the archaeology of the late Roman Empire and the Migration Period, urbanism in early Europe, and relations between the Roman Empire and "barbarians".[5] It was while at Exeter that Todd carried out his most important archaeological fieldwork. At Hembury, Todd uncovered a previously unrecognized Roman occupation of the Iron Age hillfort. At Bury Barton he identified two Roman sites, including a fort. He also researched Roman mining of lead in the Mendips. At Charterhouse-on-Mendip, Todd found evidence of Roman galena ore extraction.[2]

Combined with his duties at Exeter, Todd played an active role in the scholarly community. He was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford in 1984. Todd was Editor of Britannia for five years, and was later Chairman of its Editorial Committee, which also oversees the publishing of the Journal of Roman Studies. He was Vice-President of the Roman Society from 1985 until his death.[2][3] He was on the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England from 1986 to 1992, and on the Council of the National Trust from 1987 to 1991.[2] From 1990 to 1991 he was Visiting Fellow at Brasenose College, Oxford and a Senior Research Fellow at the British Academy.[2][3] He was Trustee of the Roman Research Trust from 1994 to 1999. Todd was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.[1][2]

Career at Trevelyan College[edit]

In 1996, Todd returned to his hometown to become Principal of Trevelyan College, Durham. He simultaneously held a part-time post tasked with extending the Department of Archaeology. During this time he was also an archaeological consultant to Durham Cathedral.[2] Under the leadership of Todd, great changes were made to the management structure of Trevelyan, new fellowships, scholarships and awards were introduced, and its buildings were significantly renovated.[6]

Retirement, death and legacy[edit]

Map of tribal movements of the Migration Period. Todd was recognized as one the world's leading experts on the archaeology of the period.

Todd had little patience with administrative work, and had an ambivalent view on the digitization of academia. As he result he took an early retirment from Trevelyan in 2000, which enabled him to focus entirely on writing and research.[2][6] He subsequently returned to Exeter, where he continued to own a house.[2] During this time he edited and published Companion to Roman Britain (2004), which is considered an essential work. He also published the results of his excavations at Charterhouse-on-Mendip.[2] Todd died of a heart attack on 6 June 2013, and was survived by his wife and two children.[2]

Throughout his career, Todd was the author of numerous books and scholarly articles, and also wrote entries for works such as Encyclopædia Britannica, Cambridge Ancient History and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.[1][3] His bibliography includes three books about the Germanic peoples, for which he received wide renown.[2] Several of these were translated into multiple languages, such as French, German and Italian.[3] Todd was considered one of the foremost authorities on the archaeology of Germanic peoples living on the Roman border. His books also covered a wide array of topics related to the Roman Empire, including the Aurelian Walls, Roman currency, populated places of Britain, Romano-British tribes, and the end of Roman rule in Britain. His research and works on the archaeology of Roman Britain and the Germanic peoples remain highly influential.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Todd married Molly Tanner on 2 September 1964, with whom he had a daughter and a son.[1]

Selected works[edit]

  • Everyday Life of the Barbarians, Batsford, 1972
  • The Coritani, Duckworth, 1973, 2nd edition, A. Sutton, 1991.
  • The Northern Barbarians, Hutchinson, 1975, 2nd edition, Blackwell, 1987.
  • The Walls of Rome, Elek, 1978.
  • Studies in the Romano-British Villa, Leicester University Press, 1978.
  • Roman Britain, Collins, 1980, 2nd edition, Penguin, 1995, 3rd edition, Blackwell, 1999.
  • The South West to AD 1000, Longman, 1987.
  • (Editor) Research on Roman Britain, 1960-89, Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, 1989.
  • The Early Germans, Blackwell, 1992, 2nd edition, Blackwell, 2004
  • Migrants & Invaders: The Movement of Peoples in the Ancient World, Tempus, 2001
  • (Editor) Companion to Roman Britain, Wiley, 2004
  • Roman Mining in Somerset, The Mint Press, 2007

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Contemporary Authors. 26 June 2002.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r The Times. 18 July 2013, p. 48.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Prof Malcolm Todd". Debrett's People of Today. Archived from the original on 24 February 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  4. ^ "Buildings at Margidunum". Bingham Heritage Trails Association. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  5. ^ "Malcolm Todd". University of Exeter. Archived from the original on 16 February 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  6. ^ a b Martin 2006, pp. 177-178.


Further reading[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
George Marshall
Principal of Trevelyan College, Durham
Succeeded by
Nigel Martin