ashmolean

British Archaeological and Antiquarian Collections Online

The Alfred Jewel, found in Somerset in 1693.

British archaeological and antiquarian material held by the Ashmolean forms a rare physical testament of early archaeological activity in Britain from the late 17th to mid-20th centuries.

The Ashmolean was founded in 1683, and from the start was associated with antiquarian interests through the first two keepers, Robert Plot and Edward Lhwyd, who were both pioneers in the field. For about the first two hundred years of its existence the museum provided a focus for antiquarian work in Britain and was one of the few repositories available for such material. As a result, antiquarian material from all over the British Isles found its way into the collection.

During the later 19th and early 20th centuries the museum was increasingly connected with the developing profession of archaeology, both in Britain and abroad. It became directly involved with excavation during the keepership of Edward Thurlow Leeds (1928-1945), particularly with reference to his innovative work on the settlement of the Thames Valley. Following World War II the museum concentrated on fieldwork related to redevelopment in Oxfordshire. This situation continued until the late 1960s when the Oxfordshire Museum Service was founded and a new professional body was established for development archaeology in the region.

Image:The Alfred Jewel, found in Somerset in 1693. AN1836 p.135.371

This searchable online catalogue of the collection is the result of an extensive programme of collaborative work by the Information Technology and Antiquities departments of the Ashmolean that was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Go to the British Archaeology Resources Pages

Go to the ‘British Archaeology at the Ashmolean’ website