Vivian Swan, Roman pottery expert, dies

The Press

THE funeral was taking place today of a York woman whose interest
in archaeology and ancient Rome saw her rise to the top of her field
and gain the respect of international scholars.

Vivian Swan died on New Year’s Day following a two-year battle with
breast cancer. Today, members of her family described her as “an
inspiration to many who will be missed by us all”.

Mrs Swan moved to York with her husband, Tony, and daughters Janine and Flavia in 1975.

At that time, the archaeology graduate was working for the Royal
Commission for Historic Monuments. The family settled in Flaxton and it
was from there that Mrs Swan dedicated her spare time to the study of
Roman pottery, gaining a reputation as the foremost expert in the

Her passion led her to publish many respected works and, in 1994, she set up Swan Pottery Queries And Research.

Her work saw her gain international recognition, particularly in eastern Europe.

In 1998, Mrs Swan was diagnosed with breast cancer, after which she underwent treatment.

Despite her love of archaeology, Mrs Swan still found time to
dedicate to her community. In the late 1970s she founded Flaxton Music
Consort, a group of girls, including her daughters, who played the
recorder at church festivals.

In 2001, she received an honorary doctorate of literature from Cardiff University in recognition of her achievements.

Two years later she celebrated her 60th birthday and four years
without cancer with a big party to thank those who had supported her
through her illness.

Janine said: “She was a larger than life character and was also
there to support us. Her work did come first but she was always there.

“A funny example is our family holidays where we went caravanning
all over the south coast, but instead of going to the beach we went to
Roman villas and latrines. This went on until we were teenagers, then
we said ‘enough is enough’.”

In autumn 2006 the cancer returned. Her family said she faced the treatment with courage and good humour.

She died in St Catherine’s Hospice in Scarborough, aged 65.

Flavia said: “So many people have spoken to us of her consistent
support and advice to them, despite her ongoing battle with cancer. Her
attitude was an inspiration to many, including those who treated her.
She will be sorely missed.”

After today’s private funeral at St Lawrence Church, Flaxton, a
commemorative celebration open to everybody, was taking place on
February 21, at noon, also at St Lawrence Church.

‘Sleeping Beauty and Alcestis’

Daniel Morden and friends are bring a new show to Haberdashers’
Monmouth School for Girls on Wednesday, February 11th at 7:30 pm in the
School Hall; it is called ‘Sleeping Beauty and Alcestis’ (and is not
suitable for under 12s). The tickets are £8.

Contact the Head of Classics, Jayne Treasure Tel. 01600 711100