Robert Henry Forster: The Man

 [ Forster ]

Photo courtesy Trustees of the Corbridge Excavation Fund

Robert Forster was born on 10th March 1867 at Backworth, Earsdon, in Northumberland, a few miles to the north-east of Newcastle upon Tyne (GB). He was the fourth son of George Baker Forster, a mining engineer, and went to Harrow, before going up to St John's College at Cambridge in 1885. He achieved a first in the Classical Tripos in 1888 and, in 1889, was Senior in the Law Tripos. As a student, he rowed in the first boat of his college's Lady Margaret Boat Club and in the crew sent to Henley in 1888, winning both the Thames cup and Ladies plate. He maintained his love for rowing by becoming joint secretary of the Thames Rowing Club in 1892 with L.H.K. Bushe-Fox, his friend.

Starting out with a legal career in mind, he was called to the Bar in 1892, having been McMahon Law Student the year before. However, his writing soon took precedence, to be joined by his archaeological interests.

He married his wife, Margaret Hope, quite late in life - in 1913, just before the penultimate season of excavation at Corbridge. She evidently accompanied him to Corbridge in the 1913 and 1914 seasons and they rented a house overlooking the site. She, having intended spending her time dressmaking, ended up sorting out his pottery processing for him.

Forster died at Rest Dod, Combeinteignhead, Devon, on June 6th 1923 aged 56. Margaret died on August 13th 1956 aged 79 years and they are buried in a plot in St Michael's churchyard overlooking his beloved Devonshire Garden. His epitaph describes him as 'a faithful son of Northumberland'.

Further Reading

  • M.C. Bishop, Corstopitum: An Edwardian Excavation. Photographs from the 1906-14 Excavations of the Roman Site at Corbridge, Northumberland, English Heritage: London, 1994
  • W.H. Knowles, 'Robert Henry Forster', Journal of the British Archaeological Association 29, 1923, 293-5
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This page last updated 28th October 2003