A Celebration of the Life of Philip Grierson

Philip Grierson, 2002

Philip Grierson

© Eaden Lilley

Philip Grierson (1910-2006), a well-known Cambridge historian who specialised in medieval monetary history, became the most celebrated numismatist of the twentieth century. As a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College for seventy years, he taught successive generations of history undergraduates and was affectionately known as one of the most sociable dons. Yet his reputation was formidable as an international scholar with an enviable command of languages, who held posts concurrently at Cambridge, Brussels and Washington.

For fifty-six years he was Honorary Keeper of Coins in the Fitzwilliam Museum. His own collection of medieval European coins, the finest that exists, has been housed in the Museum for the last thirty years and has recently been bequeathed to it, together with his magnificent library.

Professor Grierson died at the age of 95 on 15 January 2006, and a Celebration of his Life, held two months later in the Fitzwilliam Museum, was attended by 200 colleagues, friends and family members. Reminiscences of aspects of his life – his early days in Caius, his love of coin collecting, his activities in America, his ‘pizza and movie’ evenings with students – were accompanied by chamber and choral music performed by students of Gonville and Caius College. A highlight of the event was excerpts an interview with Professor Grierson made in June 2005.

The full texts of the addresses given at this Celebration are posted on this website:



A professionally filmed DVD of highlights of the evening is available from the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Department of Coins & Medals, price £8.95, plus postage and packing.

A short preview of some of the video footage from the DVD is available:

Profile: Philip Grierson (1910-2006), The Fitzwilliam Museum Review 2004-2006