Remembering Eric Norton

Written by Ian Blair
1st July 2021

On Monday I returned to Eagle Wharf Road for the first time in fifteen months, and it was great to see some of my former colleagues after such a long absence from MOLA. Much sadder news however was relayed by Derek Seeley, that Eric Norton had recently died.

Eric worked with me on the first site I supervised for the DUA at Foster Lane in 1982, which may well have been his first site in the City of London, where he was one of a small team of four archaeologists. He later fled: swimming across the Thames to join the DGLA, before returning to the north bank in 1991 when the DGLA and DUA merged as MoLAS. In the mid- 1990’s Eric left the building with Simon O’Connor-Thompson to start the consultancy Norton Thompson Associates.

When I think of Eric, I can still hear his dulcet tones and remember well his very deliberate thoughtful style of delivery. With a sharp sense of humour, he was great company to be with, especially after hours and with a drink in his hand, and tales to relate. His local pub was the Lamb and Flag in Covent Garden, which was also frequented by Charles Dickens (not at the same time) and acquired a reputation in the early nineteenth century for staging bare-knuckle prize fights in its upstairs room, earning it the nickname 'The Bucket of Blood'.

Not being the fighting sort, Eric restricted his sporting endeavours to playing darts with their darts team, and he was an accomplished player, if memory serves me right a South Paw, and he had a wonderful fluid throwing action. He will be missed by all who worked with him on both banks of the River Thames throughout the 1980s and 1990s, another sad loss of a London archaeologist.

RIP

 

Eric Norton (centre) with from left to right: Barry Bishop, Ian Grainger, Mike Hutchinson, and Chris Phillpotts.Eric Norton (centre) with from left to right: Barry Bishop, Ian Grainger, Mike Hutchinson, and Chris Phillpotts.
Photo possibly taken at Ray Street in the second half of the 1980s. Thanks to Bob Cowie for sharing this image.

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2 comments

  • Comment Link Toby Catchpole Tuesday, 15 March 2022 05:40 posted by Toby Catchpole

    RIP Eric. My first boss in London. Equally good as archaeologist and company. Explained everything needed to understand the DUA manual in the first hour I was there. Also introduced many to the delights of greasy spoons with the guardian crossword, followed by long sessions in various boozers. Dave Kenny informed me early on that Eric had decided to amuse himself by picking people with funny names from the list of available staff. I thought that was just Kenny being Kenny until I realised me and Sarah Duck we're his two most recent recruits.

  • Comment Link John Maloney Friday, 03 September 2021 12:24 posted by John Maloney

    Eric was a fine addition to the DUA Excavations Office negotiating team ~ generally, very calm, and with a dry - often sardonic - wit. He also worked for me/Archaeological Aspects after we both had left the MoL ~ he wrote vg DBA's. We enjoyed many a G&T and I teased him that he resembled a fellow Yorkshireman, Robert Palmer [RIP], and I got the impression he was secretly pleased about that. He, I and Simon O'Connor-Thompson very nearly formed a heritage consultancy linked to EC Harris but, unfortunately, it didn't work out. I will miss him.

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