Neil Faulkner: obituary

Updated: Apr 3

Remembering Neil; 22 January 1958 – 4 February 2022

It is with immense sadness that we write of the death of our friend, the co-founder and contributing editor of Archaeology Worldwide, Dr Neil Faulkner.


Neil was well-known as a fieldwork archaeologist, historian, magazine editor, author, lecturer, broadcaster, and political activist. A Hegelian Marxist, his politics infused everything he did.


One of the most proactive archaeologists of our time, Neil excavated widely and indefatigably – from his Great Arab Revolt Project in Jordan to pioneering the archaeology of the cinema. His long-running research project at Sedgeford, UK, produced fascinating insights into the workings of the Anglo Saxon period and introduced hundreds of people to archaeological excavation and research.


Neil was a talented and prolific writer, covering archaeology, history, and politics – typically combing all three in any given text. With a history degree from Cambridge University, Neil took a PhD in Roman archaeology from UCL. His many books include Empire and Jihad: The Anglo Arab Wars of 1870-1920 (2021), Lawrence of Arabia’s War (2016), and A Visitor’s Guide to the Ancient Olympics (2012).


His unusual breadth of knowledge, and sharp political insights, meant Neil had a nose for a good and novel story. For Neil, a bit of broken bit of pottery from Ipswich or Istanbul was not simply a bit of broken pottery. Instead, he could use the humblest of sherds to open a window onto the entire social order behind the pot.


An expert speaker, Neil frequently appeared on TV and radio, lectured widely, and led numerous historical/archaeological tours. We have uploaded a series of talks on the history of the world, from Neil’s perspective here.


Neil’s light shone very brightly. His generosity of spirit was second to none. Having trained as a schoolteacher, he was mentor to many. He linked arms with the oppressed, spoke up, and pushed for change in the world.


Neil Faulkner died from mantle cell lymphoma, following a cancer diagnosis in June 2021. He is survived by his partner Lucy Harris, and their three children, Tiggy, Rowena and Finnian.


Issue 6 of Archaeology Worldwide magazine carries a special tribute to Neil, with contributions from Andrew Marr, Tom Holland, Tansy Hoskins, and others. To read the full tribute, please click here.


Nadia Durrani