Barbara Noddle was a major figure in the development of animal osteoarchaeology in Great Britain, and was well-known internationally for her work on the pathology and intra-species variation of domestic animals. Her many publications made a contribution to the veterinary and archaeological literatures, not to mention the cultivation of cacti and cats. Barbara was from Bristol. and retained a strong attachment to that city. From being Head Girl at Clifton High School, she entered Cambridge University, to emerge in 1958 qualified in veterinary science. As lady vets were something of a rarity in those days, Barbara did not go into practice, a decision she sometimes wistfully regretted, but eventually returned to Bristol to undertake work in bone pathology, collecting a MSc along the way. Her next position was at the University of Strathclyde, and then a Research Fellowship at the University of Birmingham. This move brought Barbara into regular contact with archaeologists, and led to her embarking on a series of investigations of animal bones from archaeological sites throughout the British Isles. By the time that she moved on, to teach anatomy and comparative anatomy to medical and dental students at University College Cardiff, Barbara was well-established as the author of numerous bone reports, and a mine of detailed and authoritative information on the anatomy, physiology, and pathology of mammals of all kinds. In support of her archaeological work, Barbara amassed an extensive and eclectic comparative collection, much of which is now housed at the National Museum of Wales. The accumulation of these skeletons was the stuff of legend, and colleagues knew better than to enquire about the identity of some ill-concealed lump in the back of her car. However, having such a collection gave Barbara the opportunity to extend her investigation of the skeletal differences between species to investigating the skeletal differences within species, both congenital and acquired. If one found an unusual skeletal variant of some kind, Barbara could usually match it with several more and suggest a plausible aetiology. She was also adept at correcting oneâs misidentifications, pointing out, in one memorable instance, that a supposedly abnormal cattle cervical vertebra probably got that way because of the weight of its antlers. The remark took a moment to sink in, and the red deer vertebra was hastily re-labelled. As if teaching anatomy and working on bones were not enough, Barbara also managed to find both time and space to grow cacti and other succulent plants, and to keep a variable, but always large, number of cats. Music, too, was a great love and a subject on which her knowledge was quite remarkable. When ill-health forced an early retirement, Barbara set about attending concerts and recitals with great enthusiasm. Her wheelchair was not allowed to be a problem: indeed, she took gleeful pleasure at being stopped for speeding through a pedestrian precinct. Music and conversation filled much of her last few years: it was not unusual to be able to hear at least one half of a Proms concert in the background during a telephone chat with Barbara. She rarely complained about her declining health or immobility, but was solicitous about the health and well-being of others, and keen to hear about the progress of oneâs own or colleaguesâ children. Barbara was a good friend to many, a valued colleague to more besides, and we will miss her. T.P. OâConnor University of Bradford, UK Copyright Â© 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
International Journal of Osteoarchaeology – Wiley
Published: May 1, 1999