The Ancient History of South Wiltshire.

London, published by William Miller, printed by W. Bulmer and Co., 1812.

Elephant folio (555 x 400 mm.), ff. [2], pp. 254, ff. [3]; with an engraved title, engraved portrait of William Cunnington, and 74 ( 2 double-page) plates and maps; an excellent, clean and crisp large paper copy bound in English contemporary diced calf tooled in gilt and blind, sides with an outer gilt broad neo-classical border enclosing a panel of interlaced blind and gilt borders, elaborately gilt tooled spine over 8 raised bands, with gilt lettering direct of title, author and imprint, marbled edges.


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First edition of a work which was an important step towards objective methods in field archaeology and established Colt Hoare’s reputation as an archaeologist. This is one of the few large paper copies.

Sir Richard Colt Hoare (1758-1838) was the grandson of Henry Hoare, the banker, who had laid out the gardens at Stourhead. At the beginning Colt Hoare was only called upon to finance Cunnington’s enterprise of recording all that could be discovered about the inhabitants of Wiltshire from prehistoric to Roman times. In the course of the preparations though he aquired a rapidly growing interest and knowledge, became a collaborator, and was soon described by a fellow enthusiast as “barrow mad”. Colt Hoare wrote the work with the support of William Cunnington who had assembled much of the archeological information on excavation sites but died in 1810. Stephen and John Parker did the actual excavation work , while Philip Crocker made all the surveys and executed the detailed drawings for the plates.

For a full account of Colt Hoare’s life and archaeological pursuits, see K. Woodbridge, Landscape and Antiquity, Oxford, 1970.

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