Robin Vowles 1942-2012
Robin's death has cast a large shadow over all of us in the Whitehall "work team". We remember times over the past years when our lives crossed and are grateful for happy, satisfying memories of him both on the annual digs and when we were processing the finds on Tuesday afternoons through the rest of the year.
When we were trowelling away on the surface at the Villa, conditions could be extreme – from baking hot to dealing with the effect of a sudden rainstorm. Robin's gear would match the occasion – Foreign Legion kepi and all-over waterproofs turning him into a "green being"! Nothing would stop him in the pursuit of the archaeology. He never complained about being given a particularly tough area to work and his attention to detail gave the rest of us something to aspire to. He and Beryl were to be found at break times in their matching folding chairs with a vast selection of eats which we were all envious of. Beryl's sales pitches at lunchtime for Whitehall products and memorabilia are famous.
Of course, all that was dug up had to be scrubbed, numbered and archived. Beryl has kept a watchful eye on the quality of work and Robin was a willing helper filing the bits away in context trays before we sorted and recorded everything during the dark days of winter.
Shelter from the elements was needed on site and we used a variety of tents of various ages, supplied by Beryl and Robin. We were also grateful for their expertise in pitching them as otherwise we would have struggled with so many conflicting suggestions from the rest of us.
Tuesday afternoons have become more of a family occasion when we gather in the Barn, whatever the weather, to sort the artefacts. Robin's skill at separating grogged, shelly or oxidised tile was first class. He always enjoyed the tea breaks and the newsy chats.
We normally have outings twice a year to visit other archaeological projects. Robin and Beryl were always on the trips, lastly in December to see the Roman hoard at Market Harborough. He was delighted to be with us then and we remember a happy day together.
After nearly 10 years in our group, Robin will be remembered fondly by all of us.