Pitt-Rivers in Kent

image: an example of the rare money of Matilda, struck by the moneyer Sweting at Oxford. This coin was excavated from Castle Hill, Folkestone by Pitt-Rivers in 1878, misidentified by him as a coin of Stephen, and appears not to have been passed to the Pitt Rivers Museum by the General when he donated his collection in 1884. Through another route, however, the coin came to the Ashmolean Museum, where it is now held. The full story is explored in the 'Pitt-Rivers an Kent' paper below.

We have published a draft of our first Excavating Pitt-Rivers project report today. The full paper, on Pitt-Rivers' fieldwork in the county of Kent, is published online here - and the opening lines are below. We actively encourage comments on this paper from researchers with knowledge of the history and archaeology of Kent, who can help us to add to the details that we have been able to assemble so far - please email comments to dan.hicks@prm.ox.ac.uk

This paper explores the evidence for General Augustus Pitt-Rivers’ archaeological fieldwork in the county of Kent, with particular attention to using the archaeological material from the founding collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum (PRM), University of Oxford – which has been documented through the Arts Council England-funded  Excavating Pitt-Rivers project – as a primary source.  A major aim of the project is to demonstrate the potential for museumcollections to represent resources for the writing, and re-writing, of the history of science, using 19th-century archaeological activities of General Pitt-Rivers as a case study.

Continue reading this paper at http://www.academia.edu/3071375/Pitt-Rivers_in_Kent 

Cataloguing ceramic sherds from Mount Caburn, Sussex

The Excavating Pitt-Rivers team is now working on the material from Sussex, starting with the excavated artefacts from Mount Caburn.  Pitt-Rivers conducted a large-scale excavation at Mount Caburn - an Iron Age hillfort on the South Downs near Lewes - during the summers of 1877 and 1878. We estimate that the PRM holds c. 1,546 ceramic sherds from the excavation of this site by General Pitt-Rivers - representing one of the earliest assemblages from a modern scientific open-area excavation ever created.

The pottery has never been documented at this level of detail, so we are working bag by bag, laying out the contents and labelling each sherd with its own unique museum accession number.

The next step is to catalogue the material on the PRM database, enhancing the records with measurements, weight, object descriptions and information from old labels.

Once all the material has been catalogued, each object is photographed then bagged up individually along with the old documentation, before returning to storage.

This will be keeping us busy for the next few weeks at least!

Flintwork from Yorkshire

Stone scrapers, collected by Canon Greenwell and Pitt-Rivers, from various sites in Yorkshire illustrated in the PRM Accession Book VI and photographed as part of the project. (PRM 1884.133.169-77)

Prior to the Excavating Pitt-Rivers project little was known about Pitt-Rivers' time in Yorkshire. As detailed in an earlier blog post we now have a much better understanding of his activities in 1867 and 1879. The majority of objects collected during Pitt-Rivers' time in Yorkshire were flint arrow-heads and scrapers. Much of this flintwork has specific dates written on them, possibly in the General's own hand, giving us a very detailed account of where Pitt-Rivers was working day to day.

Flint flake (PRM 1884.127.47. 18) marked 'Ganton Wold APL-3-67. ALF [Augustus Lane Fox]'.
The Yorkshire founding collection includes excellent examples of leaf-shaped arrow-heads, barbed and tanged arrowheads, scrapers and hammer-stones.

A selection of 8 barbed and tanged arrow-heads collected in the Yorkshire Wolds by Pitt-Rivers and Greenwell.

A selection of 9 leaf-shaped arrow-heads collected from various locations in Yorkshire by Pitt-Rivers and Greenwell.
As our studies of the artefacts proceed, we shall continue to explore how Pitt-Rivers' archaeological fieldwork in Yorkshire, including that undertaken with Canon William Greenwell, influenced his later field methods.