Ivan D Margary

“A thousand roads lead men forever to Rome”; Alain de Lille, 1175

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University of Portsmouth, Sat. 3rd Sept. to Sun. 4th Sept. 2016

Burn Hall Hotel, York, Sat. 12th Nov. to Sun. 13th Nov. 2016

Ivan Donald Margary was born in 1896, the son of Colonel Alfred Robert and Lillian Margary.  He spent the duration of the First World War as a Lieutenant with the Royal Sussex Regiment, being wounded in action.  In 1927, Ivan Margary joined the Sussex Archaeological Society, and in 1932 he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. During his life he was President of the Sussex Records Society, and the East Grinstead Society. He donated substantial sums to the Society of Antiquaries, the Royal Archaeological Institute, and Archaeological Societies of Sussex, Surrey and Kent. It was also largely due to him that the Margary Room at Barbican House, Lewes was reconstructed, and the quadrangle at Exeter College, Oxford was built.

The greatest single feature of his work was the study of Roman roads.  In 1929, he made a chance discovery of what became known as the London to Lewes way, a previously unknown Roman road, seen as he photographed areas of Ashdown Forest from the air.  In 1939, he bought and excavated a piece of land near Holtye Common where the line of the Roman road came through and left 40 yards exposed for public viewing. This was given to the Sussex Archaeological Society, and remains visible to this day.

Margary devised a system of road numbering,  somewhat like our modern A & B roads, which is still used today. His work in the South and South East led to his publication of “Roman Ways in the Weald” in 1948. His work eventually took in the entire Roman road system and he published in “Roman Roads in Britain” in 1955/7. 60 years later, this remains the most comprehensive gazetteer of Roman roads in Britain.

 


Ivan Donald Margary was born in 1896, the son of Colonel Alfred Robert and Lillian Margary.  He spent the duration of the First World War as a Lieutenant with the Royal Sussex Regiment, being wounded in action.  In 1927, Ivan Margary joined the Sussex Archaeological Society, and in 1932 he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. During his life he was President of the Sussex Records Society, and the East Grinstead Society. He donated substantial sums to the Society of Antiquaries, the Royal Archaeological Institute, and Archaeological Societies of Sussex, Surrey and Kent. It was also largely due to him that the Margary Room at Barbican House, Lewes was reconstructed, and the quadrangle at Exeter College, Oxford was built.

The greatest single feature of his work was the study of Roman roads.  In 1929, he made a chance discovery of what became known as the London to Lewes way, a previously unknown Roman road, seen as he photographed areas of Ashdown Forest from the air.  In 1939, he bought and excavated a piece of land near Holtye Common where the line of the Roman road came through and left 40 yards exposed for public viewing. This was given to the Sussex Archaeological Society, and remains visible to this day.

Margary devised a system of Roman road numbering,  somewhat like our modern A & B roads, which is still used today. His work in the South and South East led to his publication of “Roman Ways in the Weald” in 1948. His work eventually took in the entire Roman road system and he published in “Roman Roads in Britain” in 1955/7. 60 years later, this remains the most comprehensive gazetteer of Roman roads in Britain.



IVAN DONALD MARGARY 1896 - 1976

Nowadays, he is less well known for his associations with the Roman Palace of Fishbourne, which, it could be argued, is his true legacy to the nation. The Palace, with the remains of a large early Roman building with impressive mosaic floors, was discovered by chance in 1960 during the laying of a water pipe. In size, the palace is believed to be equivalent to Nero's Golden House in Rome.  In 1962 Margary’s generosity enabled the land to be purchased and the site secured. After excavation by a team led by Barry Cunliffe, the North Wing was protected with a modern structure and the site and visitor centre are now maintained and administered by the Sussex Archaeological Society. Link to Fishbourne Leaflet

Reconstruction of Fishbourne Roman Palace

As part of the discussion groups, the conferences will discuss how to make a lasting memorial to this very private, but influential man.

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