He was born on 6 April 1902 in Denny, Stirlingshire in central Scotland, the son of Rev Peter C Durward MA (1861–1924) and his wife Elizabeth (b.1865). The family emigrated to New Zealand in 1906 originally to Leeston and then moving to Lawrence in October 1911. It is noted that his father deputised for the Moderator (Charles) at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand in 1916.
Archibald was educated at the prestigious Otago Boys' High School. He then studied Medicine at the University of Otago graduating MB in 1926 and gaining his doctorate (MD) in 1930. In the intervening period he acted as house surgeon at Dunedin Public Hospital. He lectured in Anatomy at his alma mater from 1927. He returned to Britain to seek employment, gaining a role as lecturer in anatomy at University College London, where he stayed from 1931 to 1936. He then gained the chair in anatomy at the University of Leeds, remaining there from 1936 to 1962. He later served as vice chancellor of the university.
- The Peripheral Nervous System
He was married to Dorothea Westlake in 1934.
- Christchurch Presbytery Press vol LXVII issue 14147, 13 Sept 1911
- The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, 1966
- "Durward, Archibald - Leeds University Library". Library.leeds.ac.uk. 5 March 1945. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
- Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0 902 198 84 X.
- "Alexander Durward". Findagrave.com. Retrieved 2 April 2016.