Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond

Born15 November 1907
Died24 March 2001(2001-03-24) (aged 93)
Children3 (including Caroline Bammel)
Academic background
Alma materGonville and Caius College, Cambridge
Academic work
Military career
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchSpecial Operations Executive
Years of service1940–1945
Battles/warsSecond World War
AwardsDistinguished Service Order
Order of the Phoenix (Greece)

Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond, CBE, DSO, FBA (15 November 1907 – 24 March 2001) was a British historian, geographer, classicist and an operative for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) in occupied Greece during the Second World War.

Hammond was seen as the leading expert on the history of ancient Macedonia.[1][2] He was recognized for his meticulous research on the geography, historical topography and history of ancient Macedonia and ancient Epirus.[3]

Life and writings

Nicholas Hammond was born on 15 November 1907 in Ayr, Scotland to James Vavasour Hammond, an Episcopalian rector, and Dorothy May.[4] Hammond studied classics at Fettes College[5] and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. In 1929, while he was still a student, Hammond began his personal exploration of all the ancient sites in Epirus.[6] He excelled in his exams and also spent vacations exploring Greece on foot, acquiring knowledge of the topography and terrain. He also spent some time in southern Albania (Northern Epirus) where he learnt the Albanian language.[7] These abilities led him to be recruited by the Special Operations Executive during World War II in 1940. His activities included many dangerous sabotage missions in Greece (especially on the Greek island of Crete). As an officer, in 1944 he was in command of the Allied military mission to the Greek resistance in Thessaly and Macedonia.[3] There he came to know those regions thoroughly. He published a memoir of his war service entitled Venture into Greece in 1983; he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the Greek Order of the Phoenix.

In the postwar period, Hammond returned to academia as senior tutor at Clare College, Cambridge. In 1954, he became headmaster of Clifton College, Bristol and in 1962 was appointed Henry Overton Wills Professor of Greek at Bristol University, a post which he held until his retirement in 1973. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1968[8] and an honorary member of the Centre des Nouvelles études de l'histoire, de la philosophie et des problèmes sociaux à Clermont-Ferrand in 1988.[citation needed]

His scholarship focused on the history of ancient Macedonia and ancient Epirus,[3] and he was considered the leading expert on Macedonia.[2] He was also editor and contributor to various volumes of the Cambridge Ancient History and the second edition of the Oxford Classical Dictionary. He was known for his works about Alexander the Great and for suggesting the relationship of Vergina with Aegae, the ancient Macedonian royal city, before the archaeological discoveries.

In later years, Hammond backed Greece during the Macedonia name dispute.[7]

On 24 March 2001, while attending a concert at Jesus College in Cambridge, Hammond collapsed and died at the age of 93.[4]

Personal life

Hammond was the father of two sons (both educated at Clifton College) and three daughters including Caroline Bammel, a noted historian of the early church.[9]

Nicholas Hammond Close, built on the former Joint Services School of Intelligence site in Ashford, Kent, is named after him.


This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (June 2023)




  1. ^ Gottmann, Jean (1984). Orbits: The Ancient Mediterranean Tradition of Urban Networks : a Lecture Delivered at New College, Oxford, on 3rd May, 1983. Leopard's Head Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-904920-10-9.
  2. ^ a b Chambers, Mortimer (2002). The Western Experience. McGraw-Hill. p. 101. ISBN 0072424370.
  3. ^ a b c Borza, Eugene N. (1992). In the Shadow of Olympus. Princeton University Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-691-00880-6.
  4. ^ a b Snodgrass, Anthony (2003). "Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond, 1907–2001". Proceedings of the British Academy. Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, II. 120: 243–259.
  5. ^ Distinguished Old Fettesians Archived 22 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ The Classical Outlook. Vol. 46. American Classical League. 1968. p. 34.
  7. ^ a b Clogg, Richard (5 April 2001). "Obituary: Nicholas Hammond". the Guardian. Retrieved 14 September 2022.
  8. ^ British Academy Fellowship entry Archived 6 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Chadwick, Henry (1997). "Caroline Penrose Hammond Bammel 1940–1995" (PDF). Proceedings of the British Academy. 94: 285–291. Retrieved 9 March 2017.


Further reading