'Index to "Excavations in Cranborne Chase" and "King John's House, Tollard Royal." Also a memoir of General Pitt-Rivers, D.C.L., F.R.S., and a bibliographical list of his works, 1858-1900 Vol. V of the "Excavation series" Published by the author at Taunton Castle, Somerset 1905 pp. v-xxxvi

Prepared by Harold St George Gray. Gray is described as 'Assistant and Secretary to the late General Pitt-Rivers; Curator and Assistant-Secretary to the Somersetshire Archaeological Society'.

This is a transcription of extracts from the preface to the index and the so-called 'memoir of General Pitt-Rivers'.

Preface to the Index

It has always seemed to me to be somewhat remarkable that one of the most important literary undertakings on the Archaeological Science of the end of the nineteenth century, viz., "Excavations in Cranborne Chase," is so infrequently referred to in the modern works and guide books relating to the antiquities of the pre-historic and pre-Norman periods. For instance, the British Museum "Guide to the Bronze Age," 1904, does not make a single reference to the work achieved by General Pitt-Rivers in his large contributions towards unravelling some of the archaeological problems raised by the study of the British Bronze Age; and the "Guide to the Stone Age," only mentions him twice, and those notes have no reference to his later and more remarkable researches.
... A very few archaeologists have excavated a greater number of barrows than General Pitt-Rivers; many have merely "rifled" others; but the General thoroughly excavated twenty-nine in North Dorset and South Wilts alone, with profitable and varied results; and before he retired from the Army he had obtained considerable experience in barrow-digging in various parts of Great Britain, firstly, I believe, with Canon Greenwell.
Again, Mr J. Romilly Allen, in covering a large field and dealing exhaustively, as far as our present knowledge permits, with "Celtic Art in Pagan and Christian Times," 1904, does not give a single footnote reference to "Excavations in Cranborne Chase," ...
Why is this? Undoubtedly, the lack of an Index to the General's magnum opus. It is a standard work, which will, it is hoped, be quoted much more frequently than it has been hitherto, now that the Index has been compiled. Science has made such rapid strides during recent years that students with limited time for their pursuits will only peruse works which are well indexed.
The desirability, if not necessity, for such an accessory as an Index was fully recognized by General Pitt-Rivers in his later days, but no time could be specially allotted to its gradual preparation by members of his Archaeological Staff during the two decades that the Rushmore excavations, and the recording of them, were in progress.
Since the publication of Volume IV in 1898, General Pitt-Rivers several times expressed a wish that I should compile an exhaustive Index to "Excavations" (including "King John's House"), and although I have the satisfaction of knowing that my interest in the matter has never flagged, my only regret is that circumstances have not permitted me to produce it sooner.
... My aim and desire have been to make the Index useful for quick reference, and for those who set themselves the task of reading the Index to ascertain precisely what the volumes of "Excavations" contain. It being my opinion that these volumes required special indexing by one who had taken part in the excavations, and consequently one who was well acquainted with details which would prove of importance to the future archaeological excavator, the compilation of the Index has been done according to my own ideas, without binding myself down to any stringent rules with regard to the laws of indexing. The Index, however, is exhaustive and often three references have been given to a single item. ...
In conclusion, I take the opportunity of thanking the Hon. Mrs Pitt-Rivers (General Pitt-Rivers's widow) for the donation she has kindly made towards the cost of the portrait-illustrations in this volume.
H. St George Gray
Taunton Castle
February 1st, 1905.

A memoir of Lieut-General Pitt-Rivers D.C.L., F.R.S., F.S.A.

The name of Lieutenant-General Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers, who died at Rushmore, his country seat on the borders of Wilts and Dorset, on May 4th, 1900, at the age of seventy-three, is one well-known to every archaeologist and ethnologist, and indeed to most men of science. A few concise obituary notices and short biographies, eulogising his wonderful scientific career, were written at the time of his death. Having been in close contact with General Pitt-Rivers for several years - indeed for a longer period than any other member of his archaeological staff - the writer is happily in a position to give a somewhat complete account of the General's strenuous life in the cause of the advancement of knowledge, and more particularly of archaeology and anthropology. No man has attained more celebrity for accuracy, brilliance, and originality in archaeological and ethnological research than General Pitt-Rivers. No similar achievements in archaeological field-work have surpassed those of the General in the British Isles. ... [Gray describes Pitt-Rivers early life and career]
In these years, Major Lane-Fox ... was led to take notice of the very slight changes of system that were embodied in the different inventions, and also of the fact that many improvements, which not being of a nature to be adopted, fell out of use, and were heard of no more, nevertheless served as suggestions for further developments which were adopted. ... So it occurred to the Major that interesting series could be made of these successive stages of improvements in weapons generally, and later, in various other arts; and in order to follow out this original line of thought, he collected for some years many interesting series, with methodical care, until his London house became nearly transformed into a museum.
... After twenty years, the Colonel's collection was becoming almost unmanageable in private apartments, the result being that it was exhibited by the Science and Art Department at Bethnal Green from 1874 to 1878, and at South Kensington from that date until 1885; and a catalogue raisonne, written by himself, was published by the Department, going through two editions (1874 and 1877).
Mr Herbert Spencer, in his "Principles of Sociology," published in 1876, thus speaks of the collection as he saw it at that time:- "The collection of implements and weapons arranged by Colonel Lane-Fox, to show their relationship to common originals of the simplest type, suggests that primitive men are not to be credited with such inventiveness as even their simple appliances appear to indicate. These have arisen by small modifications, and the selection of such modifications has led unobtrusively to various kinds of appliances without any distinct devising of them."
... still wishing to find a permanent home for his collection where it would increase and multiply, Lt.-General Pitt-Rivers presented it to the University of Oxford, who built an annexe to the University Museum to contain it, at a cost of £10,000. It is there known as the "Pitt-Rivers Museum." Its first Curator was the late Professor Moseley, who devoted much attention to the removal and partial re-arrangement of the collection. Owing to the constant flow of acquisitions the original collection is now nearly doubled, and being linked with the name of Mr Henry Balfour, the present Curator, whose assiduity and method are remarkable, it is likely to remain the foremost ethnographical collection in the kingdom for educational purposes.* [*For nearly two years the writer had the privilege of being Mr Balfour's chief assistant in the "Pitt-Rivers Museum."] [Gray then gives an extract from Balfour's address to Section H of the BAAS]
... Having dwelt at some length on the anthropological and ethnological sides of the General's career, we must recollect that his name has equal claims to be handed down to posterity as an Archaeologist. In this field of labour also, his shrewdness, ingenuity, practicalness, and versatility were clearly revealed. His experience as an excavator extended over thirty years, and whilst the greater part of his ethnological work was achieved under his earlier surname of Lane-Fox, his more important archaeological excavations were conducted after 1880 when he had assumed the name of Pitt-Rivers.
General Pitt-Rivers was always ready to acknowledge that he was originally a pupil of that venerable and highly-esteemed Yorkshire archaeologist Canon Greenwell, F.R.S. ... The General never commenced an exploration which he did not complete as thoroughly as possible. ...
Here, then, is an argument for thorough excavation, or none at all. All antiquaries, however, are not blessed with the time and money General Pitt-Rivers had at his disposal, and if such an argument were strictly adhered to, our records of archaeological excavations at the present time would be few.
... General Pitt-Rivers troubled not how long a set task encroached on fleeting time, as long as sound evidence was obtained to make clear the original date and history of the sites excavated, and to ascertain the state of civilization attained by the various tribes inhabiting them. ...
Archaeologists never rest contented unless they are able to improve on the methods of their predecessors ... It will, however, probably be some years before we shall see any considerable development in archaeological excavating, as General Pitt-Rivers, the prince of excavators at the close of the last century, was undoubtedly several years in advance of his time. Few men have the time that he had for the perpetual supervision of archaeological field-work, or the means and power of organizing and training a staff of assistants and excavators.
... As Colonel Lane-Fox, he conducted many archaeological excavations in various parts of England and Ireland, both on his own account and in conjunction with other antiquaries and societies. ... [a description of various excavations continued]
... Very soon after the General's accession to the Rivers estate in Dorset and south Wiltshire ... and before he became acquainted with one-half of his property, his archaeological enthusiasm had to find vent, and in 1880 he commenced barrow-digging in Rushmore Park under the by-no-means encouraging anticipations of some of the old employees on the estate ...
In a beautifully-decorated niche in the south wall of Tollard Church is a black marble sarcophagus containing the cremated remains of General Pitt-Rivers. A portion of the inscription runs thus:- "Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers, F.R.S., F.S.A., D.C.L., of Rushmore, Grenadier Guards, Lt.-General; was on the staff as D.A.Q.M.G. at the battle of Alma; commanding the 8th Depot at Guildford; 1st Instructor of Musketry at Hythe and Malta. Devoted the last 20 years of his life to Anthropological Research; Inspector of Ancient Monuments. Born 12 April 1827; passed away 4 May 1900.
... The construction of accurate models of ancient sites, before, in progress of, and after excavation, was one of the most distinctive and conspicuous branches of the General's scientific work. The utmost care was taken by his Archaeological Staff to make the contoured plans and other surveys absolutely accurate; every skeleton discovered was drawn to scale and photographed in situ. The 317 plates of illustrations to "Excavations" were all prepared and drawn at Rushmore; and the staff always included at least one highly-certificated draughtsman from the Royal College of Art, South Kensington. ... General Pitt-Rivers, of course, directed the whole work and was often at the diggings, when important discoveries were taking place or likely to take place, for the whole of the day and sometimes for several consecutive days. Not infrequently he has been known to be in the field at 7 a.m. in time to see the workmen arrive.
... Not only were remarkable and unique objects figured in the General's works, but what are of far more importance to the field-archaeologist, common objects and broken household utensils, such as would be used in the every-day life of early man. When the field-work was temporarily suspended, the pottery was carefully classified according to its age, position and purpose; the identification, measurement and restoration ... were attended to ... For all this work it is obvious that not only was much money necessary, but also much time and knowledge. It is therefore a question if the General's elaborate work will find many imitators. ...
General Pitt-Rivers was at intervals a semi-invalid at Rushmore, but his abstemiousness of living prolonged his life for many years. Until his health finally began to fail the General was the most able conversationalist, and would pour forth from his abundant treasure house of knowledge the most varied information, provided that he was in scientific company or with those who were genuinely anxious to learn. The extraordinary variety of his knowledge and the rapid way in which he could turn from one subject to another, reminded us on several occasions of Mr Gladstone. We can call to mind one occasion ... when, well within the hour, he discoursed most learnedly and clearly on forestry, on Mexican pottery, on Egyptian painting, on modern brass bands, on the forms of the Christian cross and on simony in the Church.
He was generous in his gifts of his noble and costly volumes, but only provided he felt sure they would be really appreciated. ...
General Pitt-Rivers, in his scientific work, lived up to the adage that "it is better to wear out than to rust out," and to the established maxim that magna est veritas et proevalebit. He was a thorough soldier of commanding figure, a great thinker, and a man venerated by the scientific world at large. ...
Moreoever, General Pitt-Rivers not only solved vast archaeological and ethnological problems, but by his researches he raised new ones to be explained by scientists of the twentieth century. His methods, precision, and exhaustive minuteness in archaeological field-work might well be designated in the future, "The Pitt-Rivers School of British Archaeology".
H. St George Gray
Taunton Castle
Feb., 1st 1905.

[Transcribed by AP as part of the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project, June 2010]

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