Bridget Allchin

Bridget Allchin (10 February 1927 - 27 June 2017) was an archaeologist who specialised in South Asian archaeology.[1][2] She published many works, some co-authored with her husband F. Raymond Allchin (1923–2010).

She was born Bridget Gordon,[3] in Oxford on 10 February 1927.[4] She was the daughter of Major Stephen Gordon of the Indian Army Medical Service and his wife Elsie (née Cox).[5] Her doctor father was from a family of medical practitioners, including Dr Thomas Monro, an ancestor who had attempted to treat the 'madness' of George III.[6]:35 Born in Oxford, Bridget was raised on a farm in Galloway in lowland Scotland, which she largely ran with her mother during the Second World War with the assistance of prisoners of war. Bridget started a degree in History and Ancient History at University College London but, at the end of her first year, left for South Africa when her parents decided to emigrate. Interested in the culture of neighbouring Basutoland, Bridget persuaded her parents to let her leave the farm and recommence her studies. Enrolling at the University of Cape Town she read African Studies, which included anthropology, archaeology and an African language. While there, she learnt to speak Sesotho and took up flying lessons.[3]

Taught by Professor Isaac Shapira and Dr A. J. H. Goodwin, Bridget developed a specialism in the South African Stone Age but decided to return to England and in 1950 she began a PhD at the Institute of Archaeology studying under Professor Frederick Zeuner to broaden her knowledge of the lithic industries of the Old World.[7]:IX:18

It was here in 1950 that Bridget met fellow PhD student Raymond Allchin and married in March 1951.[6]:90 Travelling to India for the first time with Raymond in 1951, Bridget steadily but firmly established herself as the most prominent South Asian Prehistorian in the UK. A pioneering female field-archaeologist in South Asia at a time when there were none, Bridget's research interests and publications were to stretch across South Asia from Afghanistan to Sri Lanka. At first Bridget's academic and organisational skills were dedicated to supporting Raymond's fieldwork but, despite not holding a full-time academic post, she successfully raised funds and established a number of innovative field projects. This included directing fieldwork in the Great Thar Desert with Professor K. T. M. Hegde of the M.S. University of Baroda and Professor Andrew Goudie of the University of Oxford. Bridget subsequently developed links with the Pakistan Geological Survey and played a critical role in initiating collaborations which resulted in a survey of the Potwar Plateau directed by Professor Robin Dennell of the University of Sheffield and Professor Helen Rendell of the University of Sussex to search for Palaeolithic industries during the second phase of the British Archaeological Mission to Pakistan with the support of the Leverhulme Trust.[7]:IX:13

An independent author and researcher in her own right, she published The Stone-Tipped Arrow: a Study of Late Stone Age Cultures of the Tropical Regions of the Old World (1966) and The Prehistory and Palaeography of the Great Indian Desert (with Andrew Goudie and K. T. M. Hegde: 1978) and Living Traditions: Studies in the Ethnoarchaeology of South Asia (1994).

Away from the field, Bridget held the role of founding Editor of the journal South Asian Studies for over a decade and was Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge. She was a founding trustee of the Ancient India and Iran Trust and was its Secretary and Chairman,[2] as well as founding member[3] and Secretary General of the European Association of South Asian Archaeologists, editing a number of its proceedings.[7]:IX:18–19

She died in Norwich on 27 June 2017 at the age of 90. Bridget is survived by her two children, Sushila and William.[5]

Allchin was awarded the Royal Asiatic Society Gold Medal in 2014 for her leading work in South Asia.[2] The Annual Allchin Symposium of South Asian Archaeology is named in honour of Allchin and her husband.[3]