KENNETH Painter, a former leading archaeologist at the British Museum who lived in Abingdon, has died.

Dr Painter worked at the world-renowned London museum for nearly 30 years, where he was responsible for the Romano British collections.

He developed a special interest in early Christianity, and was responsible for excavating the Hinton St. Mary mosaic that incorporates a head of Christ.

Described as gentle and encouraging, the father-of-one moved to Abingdon in 1996 with his wife Barbara, where they remained for the rest of their lives.

Kenneth Scott Painter was born on March 28 1935 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire to parents Jack and Ivy.

He was an only child and, at a young age, moved with his family to Bristol, where he then attended Bristol Grammar School.

He gained a place at Worcester College at the University of Oxford to study classics and ancient history, but was called up to the Army for National Service just before he began.

He spent two years serving in Austria where he worked in communications. He learnt Morse Code and also taught himself German, French and Italian.

On returning, he went straight into his degree in 1956 and achieved a BA and then an MA.

In 1960 Dr Painter took up a position at the British Museum in London, where he remained all his working life.

He was a leading member of his field, and contributed to about 180 different academic publications during the course of his career.

The main exhibitions he was responsible for at the British Museum included 'wealths of the Roman world' in the 1970s and 'glass of the Caesars' in the 1980s, which was officially opened by the Queen.

During a trip to Greece, which he booked after receiving some money from his late uncle, Mr Painter met Barbara Nicholas.

The pair went on to marry on September 16 1961 in Wimbledon, where she grew up.

Mr Painter was said to be "devoted" to his wife and struggled without her when she died in 2014.

A few years after marrying, in 1964, Mr and Mrs Painter had their daughter, Clare.

He retired from work at the British Museum at the end of the 1980s and in 1996 he and his wife moved to Caldecott Road in Abingdon, where they remained to the end of their lives.

Not one for a quiet retirement, Dr Painter still worked from home with his main fields of study being Roman glass, Roman silver and archaeology of the early church.

He was also a trustee of Oxford Archaeology from 2001 to 2005, a vice-president of the British Archaeological Association, and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

In 2004 he received a DLitt from the University of Oxford for his contributions to his field.

His daughter said archaeology was his life, but in his spare time he and his wife shared a love of garden history.

The couple would travel around the UK and Europe visiting historical gardens and stately homes.

Mr Painter died suddenly on Saturday, May 14 aged 81 years, after suffering a fall.

He is survived by his daughter Clare and two grandchildren Sophie, 16, and James, 14, who all live in Abingdon.

His funeral will be held at Oxford Crematorium today at 12 noon.