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Jim Rutter

James G Rutter (1915-2006) - or Jim as he was always known within the Society - was one of the stalwarts of the early days of excavation and research by the Society.

When the Rotunda Museum was transferred from the Scarborough Philosophical and Archaeological Society to the Scarborough Corporation in 1937, its first curator T.L.Gwatkin built up a small team of amateurs to carry out archaeological excavations and it was this core of people who, after the Second World War, founded the Society. On taking over the curatorship in 1950, Jim Rutter continued the close association between the Museum and the Scarborough and District Archaeological Society (as it was then known) to carry out many excavations and research projects, especially with his friends Frank Rimington and Raymond Hayes.

Jim Rutter was born in Southfields, London, in 1915 but moved to Wilby, Suffolk in 1920. He joined the RAF in 1940 spending most of his time on Gower, near Swansea, an area in which he stayed on leaving the RAF in 1946, becoming curator of Swansea Museum. While there, he wrote several books on the area, for example Gower Caves and Prehistoric Gower.

J.G. Rutter was appointed by the Municipal Borough’s Libraries Committee to the curator’s post at Scarborough with effect from 1 January 1950. His appointment at Scarborough coincided with a reorganisation of the Museum which had commenced in 1948 under E.J. Rudsdale and was completed in 1953 under Rutter’s leadership. All the natural history and geology pieces were moved up to the new Natural History Museum at Wood End. Later, in 1970, he arranged for many of the bigger items in the increasingly overcrowded Rotunda, mainly Victoriana, to be moved to St Thomas’ Museum of Bygones – and he took the curation of that short-lived museum under his wing.

When Jim Rutter came to Scarborough the internationally known site at Star Carr – a site discovered by Society member John Moore – was being excavated by (Professor) Graham Clarke. Jim Rutter assisted and this resulted in Scarborough Museum getting some of the finds. The rest went to the British Museum and Cambridge. This was to be the first of many excavations including Langton Road in Malton (1953); Cooks Row in Scarborough (1953); Crossgates (1959); Wades Causeway (1962); Blansby Park (1961);Levisham Moor; and Ayton Castle. The Rutter and Hayes combination carried out numerous research projects – Cruck-Framed Buildings (published 1972), Rosedale Mines and Railway (published 1974) and the Gazetteer of Industrial Archaeological Sites of the North York Moors published in three sections from 1968 to 1970.

In 1961 the Society published, as its Research Report No 3, his Medieval Pottery in the Scarborough Museum 13th and 14th Centuries – an invaluable study of this topic. Jim Rutter was instrumental in the Society commencing publication of Transactions in 1958 and was the first editor – a post he held until 1974. As well as the editorial role, he contributed over 25 articles either solely or jointly with others. Following his retirement from the Scarborough Museum in 1975, Jim Rutter returned to the Gower peninsula but retained an interest in North Yorkshire. He is remembered for a prodigious contribution to the archaeology of the region – of all periods


Adapted from an article by Christopher Hall which was published in Transactions 40, 2007


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