Memorial Page

MarkMark Pluciennik died on 7 May at the age of 62, following a battle with a progressive neurological condition. Mark joined the School of Archaeology and Ancient History in 2003 and was the second Director of Distance Learning in Archaeology and Ancient History at Leicester, retiring in 2011. He subsequently held the title of University Fellow.


Dr Richard Thomas, Head of the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, said: “Mark was a scholar of international repute and a fantastic colleague, central to the development of our distance learning programmes. I remember Mark as erudite, principled and quick-witted. It was under his leadership that the scope of our programme greatly expanded and the Distance Learning BA Archaeology degree came to fruition. We all owe him an immense debt for his strong commitment to distance learning and widening participation in archaeology and his energy and persistence in making sure things happened. Our thought are with his partner, Sarah Tarlow and their family: he will be sorely missed.”


A memorial will take place at Leicester Guildhall on the afternoon of Thursday 26th May to remember Mark’s life and character. Please arrive between 2.30 and 3.00 for the ceremony to begin at 3.00. Drinks and snacks will be served afterwards in the Mayor’s Parlour at the Guildhall.


Please leave your memories and messages of condolences in the comments.

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14 responses to “Memorial Page”

  1. Professor Pim Allison

    Mark was more than a colleague to me. He has been a good friend for over twenty years although our encounters have often been years apart – in Rome, and subsequently at conferences, research seminars and job interviews! He was also my mentor when I first came to Leicester and I am indebted to him for this.
    I have fond memories of Mark in Rome in 1993, at breakfast on the British School at Rome’s front porch, overlooking Garibaldi’s statue, and Saturday morning coffee and philosophical conversations on the balcony of my friend’s apartment in Parioli.
    My partner, Simon Thodey, and I will greatly miss our more frequent meals and conversations with Mark and all his family, since coming to Leicester. We offer our deepest sympathy to Sarah, Rachel, Adam and Gregory.

  2. Marilyn Palmer

    As Head of the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, I knew it was going to be difficult to find someone to take over the School’s innovative Distance Learning Programme who had the energy and persistence of the late Dr Alan McWhirr, but how wrong I was! Mark was a scholar of international repute who had worked extensively in the Mediterranean and Albania and maintained his publications in that field. However, he took on the task of expanding the Distance Learning Programme to include both undergraduate and PhD work as well as greatly increasing the number of modules available to students. He wrote much of the Level 2 module on Archaeological Theory himself, from which I learnt a great deal, and he championed the School’s retention of control of its Programme with great vigour and a measure of success. He was always a very dependable colleague and must have been greatly missed in the School – I retired before he did. He and Sarah juggled their family commitments and professional lives very successfully – I was always amazed at how they achieved this. My thoughts are very much with Sarah and their family at this very sad time.

  3. Phill Johns

    Mark was a great lecturer, and I’ll always have fond memories of his lectures – often preceded by a race from St. Nicholas Church back to campus on a Thursday afternoon. I learnt a great from his Theory in Archaeology lectures which underpinned my second year.
    My sympathy to Sarah and their family.

  4. Melanie Giles

    Dear All,
    Though I left Leicester several (!) years ago, Mark was such a welcoming face during my brief time there, and a familiar one from my Sheffield days, when he was a leading PhD light in the thrilling ‘Theory’ seminars running in the 1990s there. I will always remember his wry smile, his quiet and committed politics, his playful, incisive questioning of scientists and theorists alike. Most of all I will remember his encouragement and kindness to younger scholars, helping to create a vibrant generation of not just thinkers but practitioners… showing, not just telling, how to be a committed social archaeologist of the finest calibre. Dan and I send our fondest thoughts to all, especially Sarah and children, and I hope to join you in the Guildhall for the memorial.

  5. Javier Williams

    I live in Mexico and the US and life took me on a different path than my love for archaeology and ancient history. However, many years ago I saw a small ad that could allow me to continue studying this in a university ambience, albeit at a distance. From the very first communications Dr. Pluciennik nurtured my enthusiasm, making it grow with his friendliness and guidance. I never had the opportunity to meet him vis-a-vis, but through several years of correspondence with him I can truly say that this alternate path with a second BA, ab MSc and currently working towards a PhD owe a great deal to his influence. That is, I believe, a good testament of a life, when it has touched others in important ways. My sincerest condolences to his family.

  6. Oliver Gilkes

    A fine human being and a good comrade, in all sense of the word, especially while undertaking field survey in the wilds of Albania. He will be much missed: mbajtur vrullshëm bare!

  7. Chris Newman

    Everyone Mark was at school with were shocked to hear the news of Marks passing as he seem so well when we last saw him. Just to fill in some gaps in his remarkable obituary Mark was at the Latymer School Edmonton from 64 – 71 where he was an intellectual leader and set the school’s 100m sprint record which I believe still stands. Although a science student he did English Lit for kicks and his essays were read out as an exemplar to the class. Playing the bass guitar in our band he moved on to the double bass with his great love of jazz in all its forms. However, this met a sad end when it fell off my mini on the way home one night.
    Mark studied geology at Manchester but after a motorcycle accident, relinquished this to pursue writing and journalism on the Enfield Gazette and in Cornwall before moving to the Hull Daily Mail. He was always a generous and thoughtful person and he gave me a Hull KR shirt which I wore continuously until it had to be destroyed in a controlled explosion. We lost touch after this so I was amazed to discover that he had turned another corner and in the 21st Century became Dr Pluciennik , what a bloke! And when he told me about the salami project I knew these would be the best sausages ever.
    We will all miss Mark and we send our thoughts to Sarah, Adam, Gregory and Rachel and will join you at the Guildhall.

  8. Chris Greenhill

    I was also at school with Mark and the news of his passing came as a real shock to me. Although we had not been in regular contact over the years, I have many fond memories from our time in secondary school and a bit afterwards – the blues band that we both played in, our shared love of satire and the radio humour of the time, and evenings (often in a pub) spent philosophising and debating. Mark was a thought-provoking conversationalist and creative thinker whose friendship had a very positive influence on my formative years.
    Mark was a true polymath so it wasn’t a surprise that his career should embrace the seemingly disparate worlds of journalism and archeology but him turning up on LinkedIn, after he retired, as an artisan salami maker was left-field even for him! Whilst there had been in email contact during the last decade or so, we hadn’t seen each other for about 30 years when we met at a school reunion in 2014. It was a real pleasure to see him again. A great guy, gone too soon.
    I will also be at the memorial service.

  9. Andrew Myers

    Mark was one of my students at Sheffield University back in the late 1970s. He was a mature student, having been a journalist for some years. He was in an academically excellent year but even then managed to stand out. His knowledge and enthusiasm allied to a honed ability to write made him the kind of student every lecturer cherishes and remembers. It was gratifying he went on to have a keen interest in matters Mesolithic, and I was not in any way surprised to see him succeed and flourish as an academic. I am deeply shocked and saddened by his premature parting. My thoughts and condolences go to Sarah and the children.

  10. Matthew Johnson

    I have such very fond memories of Mark, who I knew from the late 1980s onwards. I will remember him as a deeply serious, committed and uncompromising scholar, someone who never took intellectual short cuts, or indulged in platitudes or shallow thinking. His book on social evolution remains the classic critique of the subject. His work on the Mesolithic was central in bringing study of that period into conversation with current theoretical understanding. My thoughts are with Sarah and the children at this very sad time.

  11. Selina

    It was a great pleasure to have worked with Mark in the Distance Learning Department at the University. He was a lovely, kind, caring man. We were a great team, myself, Kathy and Mark. His door was always open. I hope you will forgive me for washing your coffee mug, even though you preferred it to be completely coffee stained, you said it added to the flavour.
    My thoughts to are with Sarah, Rachel, Greg and Adam.

  12. Jose Miguel Perez Gomez

    “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
    ― Benjamin Franklin.

    Many thanks for allowing me to be part of the DL program.

  13. John Goodwin

    I have only just read this news and I am saddened to hear of Mark’s death. I knew him through his work on Distance Learning and I served on numerous committees with him championing the cause of the DL students. Always positive and always supportive – a sad loss that will be felt by many. Thoughts with the family.

  14. Paula Doran

    Paula Doran
    Although I never had the pleasure of actually meeting Mark, the last Module I have been working on was mainly written by him, and I feel much warmth and wit is reflected in his writing. He will be very sadly missed.
    I extend my condolences to Sarah and your family. God Bless, and I’m thinking of you at this sad time.


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