Tam Ward – our founder

It was with deep sadness that we said a fond farewell to Tam Ward, who died on August 2nd 2022.

Tam was one of the leading archaeologists of the last fifty years, indeed probably Scotland’s greatest amateur archaeologist.

He will be sorely missed not only by his wife, family and friends but by all that have worked alongside him – within Biggar Archaeology Group and the wider archaeology field in Scotland and beyond.

Tam Ward – the early years
Tam Ward – the early years

A fuller account of the past 50 years in archaeology can be read  in the autobiographical piece he wrote in July 2021.

Tam had volunteered with Biggar Museum from the early 1980s, becoming a trustee and forming the Biggar Archaeology Group and Young Archaeologists’ Club. He led the MSC team who built the Moat Park Heritage Centre in 1988 which was to become the depository and display conduit of much of his archaeological finds.

Awarded an MBE for his contributions, he was responsible for the discovery and excavation of archaeological sites in Upper Tweeddale and Upper Clydesdale from the mesolithic to early industrial including the Glenochar bastle and underwater archaeology at many reservoirs.

Recording reservoir excavations at Calla.
Tam recording reservoir excavations at Camps Reservoir, near Crawford, South Lanarkshire, 1992 and 1994

He was to excavate and consolidate a further five bastles in Clydesdale, (A Miscellany of Clydesdale Bastle Houses) pushing the story of post-medieval rural society to new spatial realms. His work in the forests surrounding Daer Reservoir brought new light to the mesolitic/neolithic interface.

His premier achievement was to recognise that an excavation at Howburn Farm was producing lithics which matched those found in northern Germany from the upper palaeolithic era’s Hamburgian culture thus taking back the record of the first people to inhabit Scotland in the post-glacial period.

Pitt Rivers Award
Pitt Rivers Award

Biggar Archaeology Group won many awards through his efforts including the prestigious Pitt Rivers Award.

Tam Ward
Tam Ward

After moving to live in Rosneath, Tam founded the North Clyde Archaeological Society in 2013. His most important pre-historic discovery was evidence of bronze age occupation in a cave at Portkil, dating back over 4000 years.  Other work included an important record of coastal and defensive remains along the Clyde estuary. Once again he imparted his enthusiasm to a new lower Clyde audience.

Tam will be remembered for his ability to inspire scores of others to get involved in archaeology through his industry, drive and humour. His legacy is on here for all to see and appreciate and on display at Biggar and Upper Clydesdale Museum and will be a permanent reminder of the work of this great man.