Anthony Birley (Patron)

Anthony Birley was born at Chesterholm (in the then spare bedroom, now an office) on 8th October 1937. His earliest memories of the place are from 1943 when the family returned to Northumberland after being away for the first years of the Second World War. He left the house when his parents moved to Durham City in 1950. At school he showed talent mainly for languages, so, as still allowed in those days, concentrated from the age of 13 on Latin, Greek and Ancient History to the exclusion of most other subjects. This led to Classics at Oxford, followed by a doctoral thesis on second century AD wars, then to posts in ancient history at Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Düsseldorf Universities. He always enjoyed digging, mainly in England (especially, for many years, at Vindolanda), Scotland and Wales, with two spells in Libya. Experience of directing a dig himself (at Maryport in 1966) decided him to stick to teaching and writing history (several books on Roman Britain and three on Roman emperors). He became a Trustee of the Vindolanda Trust when it started in 1970 and served until 2016, for the final twenty years as Chair.