Analysing the English Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum

Other archaeological artefacts from Oxfordshire in the founding collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum

Alison Petch,
Researcher 'The Other Within' project

Pitt Rivers collected in several other parts of the county of Oxfordshire in addition to his field surveys at Callow Hill, Ditchley and Dorchester. His article in 1869 'On some flint implements' also tells of stone tools found at Enstone and Rollright that do not appear to be in the collections.


Dorchester is the nearest settlement to the Dorchester Dykes, this donation, the year after he visited the Dykes site, might be connected.

1. 1884.99.21-23 Accession Book V entry - 1884.99.1-48 Currency - Coins ... from Dorchester Roman 29.3.71

Little Wittenham

Little Wittenham is very close to Wittenham Clumps (Sinodun Camp as Pitt Rivers called it) he may therefore have acquired this piece in 1870 when he was in the area. Note that the time the helmet was made has been corrected, Pitt Rivers believed it to be Roman (see the green book entry written when the object was sent to South Kensington Museum in 1879, and when it was transferred to Oxford and listed in the delivery catalogue).

1. 1884.32.10 Accession Book IV entry - 1884.32.1-35 - Defence Helmets. Iron helmet (temp. Charles I), with forepeak rivetted on. Dug up at Wittenham Berks [Drawing]
Delivery Catalogue II entry - Helmets etc ?Roman helmet [sic] 1/ 9764 28 Case 286
'Green book' entry - South Kensington Receipts, 10 July 1879 - 1 iron Roman jockey cap helmet Little Whittenham [sic] Berks

Angel Inn Site, Oxford

The Angel Hotel was at 79-84 High Street, Oxford. The Angel Hotel was the most important coaching inn in Oxford. In 1876 most of the inn was demolished to make space for the Examinations Schools of the University of Oxford. These items must have been acquired after this date. The Pitt Rivers Museum has other items from this site donated by George Augustus Rowell, via the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and Percy Manning. For further information about the site see http://www.headington.org.uk/oxon/high/tour/south/angel_hotel.htm
http://www.oahs.org.uk/oxo/vol%205/MitfordJope.doc. (for another pot found on this site, there are further pots in the Ashmolean collection also see Potweb at the Ashmolean.

1. 1884.40.32 Accession Book IV entry - 1884.40.1-50 Pottery Chiefly modern - Fawn-coloured 'grey-beard' (handle broken), of smooth ware, with 'cartouche' containing [Drawing - ?monogram RPA and anchor] Site of the Angel Inn Oxford ?PR [sic]
2. 1884.40.33 Large, more globular 'grey-beard', of mottled stone ware (neck gone), with medallion heads and German inscription WER: WE12: 082: WAR 1st thrice (twice) [sic] repeated) Site of the Angel Inn Oxford ?PR [sic] [Drawing]
3. 1884.40.34 Large mug of the same ware, (bottom and handle broken), inscribed 'Edward King', with angel with wreath and chawn Site of the Angel Inn Oxford ?1878 ?PR [sic]
4. 1884.41.30 Accession Book IV entry - 1884.41.1-193 - Miscellaneous pottery - mostly 'duplicates' - Part of stone ware mug stamped Crown and WR (William IV) angel figure and 'Edward King' etc Angel Inn site Oxford

Shipton under Wychwood [Shipton Barrow [site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument number 21801]

The addition of Pitt Rivers then initials (ALF = Augustus Lane Fox) suggest that he personally found these flakes, presumably while field walking. However, we have no record of him doing this in 1872 in Oxfordshire (which does not mean he did not do it).

1884.123.26 Accession Book VI entry - 1884.123.1-911 Neolithic and Mesolithic Madelainean etc - White flake suboval, worked along the curved edge Tumulus Shipton Oxon ALF 1872 [Drawing]
1884.123.27 White flake, subtriangular Tumulus Shipton Oxon ALF 1872 [Drawing]
1884.123.28 White flake, subquadrangular Tumulus Shipton Oxon ALF 1872 [Drawing]


The first of these items was probably bought at auction by Pitt Rivers (he acquired many artefacts this way). It may not have come to the Pitt Rivers Museum until 2005 as it was found n the Ashmolean's Department of Antiquities in August 2005 and returned to the PRM on 17 August 2005, other items have been found in this way, and it seems possible that when the founding collection was first delivered to Oxford some items were removed from the general storage and taken by person(s) unknown for their own research. As items are inventoried at all the museums, such anomalies are gradually being ironed out. All the University Museums have historically exchanged and transferred items between themselves when it seems more sensible for the artefact to be at another museum from a collections' research point of view.

1. 1884.76.140 Accession Book IV entry - 1884.76.1-147 Personal Ornaments Bead-Work of Glass Shell and Beads - Ancient spherical amber bead necklace Saxon Standlake Oxon 60?/ 8386
Additional Accession Book IV entry - E4? [?£4] ?69 [if this is £4 it may be the price PR paid for it]
Found i
2. 1884.79.62 Accession Book IV entry - 1884.79.1-163 Personal ornaments Penannular and Ring Brooches - 1884.79.28-140 Fibulae - Small flat plate of disc fibula with damascened gold curved designs (indistinct) Anglo-Saxon Standlake Oxon [Drawing]

Waylands Smithy

Waylands Smithy is one of the best known prehistoric monuments in Oxfordshire (before 1974 it was in Berkshire) and possibly in the UK. It is a Neolithic long barrow located near the Uffington White Horse just off the Ridgeway. It is now cared for by English Heritage. 60 Banbury Road was a site previously occupied by parts of the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Donald Baden Powell Quaternary Research Centre until it transferred in the mid 2000s to Kellogg College.

1884.140.97 Model of prehistoric monument at Waylands Smithy The model is mounted on a square base and the stones are made of cork. This object was found unaccessioned at 60 Banbury Road.

No detailed provenance
1884.121.26 Accession Book VI entry - 1884.121.1-28 Iron Implements Swords Knives Daggers - Remains of a round small wooden ?dagger hilt with narrow tang on it Oxfordshire [Drawing]

Further Reading



Bowden, M. 1984 [reprinted 1990] General Pitt Rivers the father of scientific archaeology Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
Bowden, M. 1991. Pitt Rivers - The life and archaeological work of Lt. General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers DCL FRS FSA. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
[Pitt Rivers] Lane Fox, A. 'On some flint implements found associated with Roman remains in Oxfordshire and the Isle of Thanet' Journal of the Ethnological Society vol. 1 no. 1 (1869) pp.1-12
[Pitt Rivers] Lane Fox, A. 'On the Threatened Destruction of the British Earthworks near Dorchester, Oxfordshire' The Journal of the Ethnological Society of London (1869-1870), Vol. 2, No. 4 (1870), pp. 412-416
Thompson, M.W. 1976 Catalogue of the correspondence and papers of Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt -Rivers (1827-1900) Royal Commission on Historical MSS List 76/75
Thompson, M.W. 1977. General Pitt Rivers: Evolution and Archaeology in the Nineteenth Century. Moonraker Press, Bradford-on-Avon UK