Jack Lucas

Jack Lucas died on Tuesday 28th March 2006, aged 85.  Jack was the Chairman of Rugby Archaeological Society and has been Site Director for the excavations of the Roman settlement Tripontium since 1966.  He continued his work at the site of until December 2005.

Jack was born in Earl Shilton, Leicestershire in 1921.  On leaving school he was apprenticed to a painter and decorator.  He later founded his own painting and decorating business, which operated until his retirement.  Many people in the area around Rugby will remember him in this capacity.

However his consuming interest was for archaeology, particularly the Roman period.  This passion was kindled during his RAF service as a maintenance fitter on Spitfires in the Second World War.  During this time he travelled to many counties around the Mediterranean, including Egypt, North Africa, Malta, Sicily, Italy and France.  He had many hilarious adventures during this time, with which he continued to enrapture his audiences in various local hostelries, until recent times.  Recently, his elder granddaughter transcribed some of the details from his wartime diaries, which are now accessible on the Internet, see www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2/U762460

The Roman settlement of Tripontium straddles the A5 road between the villages of Newton (Warwickshire) and Shawell (Leicestershire).  In the early 1960s, when some Roman remains were discovered during sand and gravel quarrying activities at Shawell, Jack joined the recently formed group of volunteer diggers.  He became the Site Director in 1966 and has rarely missed a weekend at the site since that time.  Under Jack’s leadership, the story of Tripontium has gradually unfolded through the meticulous excavations and related research. The findings have been documented in four formal archaeological reports.  The fourth and final report was published in August 2005.  In 1997 a non-specialist account was published about the excavation of Tripontium and Jack’s experiences as an archaeologist, but this has been out of print for some time.  There are plans to publish a booklet about Tripontium in the near future, which will contain extracts from this book.

In 1992 Jack’s unstinting labours were rewarded, when he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, in recognition of his work at Tripontium.  There were other accolades, most notably, Rugby Archaeological Society was awarded the prestigious 2004 Pitt Rivers Award, which Jack was received at the British Archaeological Awards ceremony at Queen’s University Belfast.

Most of the collection of finds from Tripontium are on display in Rugby Museum.  On 10th December 2006, the museum  gallery was renamed the Jack Lucas Gallery, to commemorate this work and contrubution to archaeology. There is also a small exhibition about Tripontium in Lutterworth Museum, close to where he lived during last years of his life.

Jack is survived by his wife, Marion, son and daughter-in-law Jonathan and Lesley, and granddaughters Rebecca and Melanie, who live in Rugby.  He will be sadly missed by his family, colleagues and friends.  However the legacy of his labours persists and the archaeological work he began will be continued by RAS members.  This enthusiastic team of volunteers includes just a few of the many people that Jack trained in archaeological fieldwork.

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