Tributes to Oxford University professor killed in M40 crash
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Tributes to Oxford University professor killed in M40 crash

A leading Oxford University history professor who died in a multi-car crash on the M40 has been remembered as “a warm and loyal friend” with a passion for teaching.

Mark Whittow, 60, a medieval historian and archaeologist who had been named as the next provost of Oriel College, died along with a 29-year-old man from Warwickshire after a collision believed to have involved five vehicles on Saturday.

Prof Martin Conway, the chairman of Oxford’s history faculty, said: “The entire Oxford community has been left deeply saddened by Mark’s tragic death.

“Mark was an enormous influence on history in Oxford, where his energy and commitment to teaching, research and to the sense of an intellectual community was irrepressible. Above all, generations of students, researchers and colleagues knew him as a warm and loyal friend who enriched all our lives. We will miss him enormously.”




Mark Whittow, 60, had been due to become provost of Oriel College, Oxford. Photograph: Corpus Christi college

Thames Valley police believe that five vehicles were involved in the collision and want to get dashcam footage from motorists who were near the scene on the M40 northbound in Oxfordshire between junctions 10 and 11 at just before 11.40pm on Saturday.

A tribute posted by the Bodleian History Faculty Library said: “Desperately sad news of the untimely passing of warm, witty, humane scholar Mark Whittow. The place will be that much sadder and poorer for his loss.”

Peter Frankopan, a professor of global history at Oxford, wrote on Twitter: “Heart-breaking news about my best, loveliest & most brilliant friend & colleague who has died over Christmas.”

An Oxford University spokesman said Whittow had played a decisive role in the development of a global approach to the study and teaching of the medieval era, which linked Europe to wider networks of trade and knowledge.

Whittow, from Oxfordshire, was a lecturer in Byzantine studies and a fellow of Corpus Christi College. He was senior proctor of Oxford in 2016-17, and lectured in history at Oriel College.

He had been due to take up his new role in August 2018 and his widow, Helen, who is a practising QC and deputy high court judge, had been set to join him at Oriel, according to a university statement last month which announced his appointment.

A police spokesman said one man had been taken to hospital with serious leg injuries and three others had been treated for minor injuries.

The spokesman said: “We are still appealing to anyone who witnessed the collision and has not yet spoken to officers to please contact us. We are specifically appealing to anyone who may have dashcam footage who was travelling in the area at the time of the collision.”

Any witnesses are asked to call the 24-hour Thames Valley police inquiry centre on 101, quoting URN 1669 (23/12).

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