Analysing the English Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum

Pitt Rivers' archaeological collections from other places in Kent

Artefacts from other areas of Kent, apart from Folkestone and the Isle of Thanet, in the founding collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum. Note that some of the items were definitely obtained via an [unnamed] third party.


Note that though this item was obtained (by Pitt Rivers, probably) in 1868 when he is known to have been in Kent, the date is on 2 April rather than September when he was fieldwalking in the Isle of Thanet. In April 1868, Pitt Rivers is known to have been fieldwalking and collecting surface finds in Oxfordshire. Chatham is on the north coast of Kent.

1884.123.53 Grey flint flake scraper with parallel scars, ?worked along edge of expanded end Chatham 2.4.68 (Surface) [Drawing]

Knockholt Beeches

Part of the Sevenoaks area of Kent. The village of Knockholt is on top of the North Downs. It is not clear if Pitt Rivers found this item or not, there is no positive record of him being in the Sevenoaks area.

1884.127.118 Accession Book VI entry - 1884.127.1-143 'Modern' stone etc implements Hammers Axe heads - 1884.127.107-143 Globular hammerstones and ?fabricators - Globular nodule of grey brown cortexed flint with flaked surfaces, bare in places and natural flattish facets (8.6 1/2) nr Knockholt Beeches Kent [Drawing]


Reculver is on the north coast of Kent, west of Margate, and west therefore of the principal area of investigation in the Isle of Thanet, those that are dated appear to date from the year before his Thanet fieldwalking in September 1868, this expedition may have been a precursor to that expedition. Note that it is not mentioned by either Thompson or Bowden, Pitt Rivers' biographers. The presence of ALF in the entries [Augustus Lane Fox] suggests that Pitt Rivers personally collected the artefacts.

1884.122.143 Accession Book VI entry - 1884.122.1-597 Stone Implements Palaeolithic Period Flint unless otherwise stated - Narrow yellowish pointed ovate, plano-convex, flaked both sides, point broken (8 3/4) Drift Reculver Kent 894 A.L.F. [Drawing]

1884.122.146 Small yellow-brown flat ovate, biconvex (?point broken) (9) Reculver 1867 [Drawing]

1884.122.151 Thick biconvex yellow-grey pointed implement (quadrangular cross section)(10 3/4) Reculver Kent 1867 [Drawing]

1884.122.152 Pale brown and black long pointed plano-convex biconvex small 'boucher', point broken, butt truncated, piece broken from ventral surface below point (13 3/4) Reculver Kent [Drawing]

Richborough Castle

Richborough is north of Sandwich on the east coast of Kent, quite close to the Isle of Thanet. The castle, described as 'perhaps the most symbolically important of all Roman sites in Britain', is now under the care of English Heritage.

1884.37.26 Accession Book IV entry - 1884.37.1-113 Pottery Ancient Wheel-made Similar basin [to 1884.37.25, Basin with wide-curved base, ... a fringe like border], with undulating floral design and similar fringe border Richboro' Castle Kent


It seems likely that Pitt Rivers obtained the following items from an auction rather than collecting them himself:

1884.37.29 Bowl of thick red-slip ware with foot and in-sloping surface to round base, edge Roman Samian Pan Bank Whitstable [18] [323 ?Sale no] [Drawing]

1884.37.30 Similar bowl [to 1884.37.29: Bowl of thick red-slip ware with foot and in-sloping surface to round base, edge], without foot Roman Samian Pan Bank Whitstable [17] [Drawing]

In addition he bought two pieces of Upchurch ware:

1884.37.31 Acccession Book IV entry - Jug of Upchurch ware. Found by Stannier 1866, sold to Last, Shrewsbury purch 1870 [Drawing]
Additional Accession Book IV entry - Kent Romano-Brit

1884.37.32 Jar with two oblique handles near rim, cup-shaped with steep scratched zig-zag ornament. Upchurch ware. Found etc as above [1884.37.31] Purch 1870 [Drawing]
Additional Accession Book IV entry - Kent Romano-Brit

However, these have a different provenance according to the blue book (written at South Kensington Museum before 1884), which suggests Uttoxeter in Shropshire as the provenance: Blue book entry - Case 79 125 Roman jug (Uriconium (1918) Added Blue book entry - Uriconium situated about where Utoxeter (Salop) now stands on banks of Severn and Blue book entry - Case 79 126 Roman jug ornamented with vandyke pattern in incised lines (Uriconium) (1900) Added Blue book entry - Uriconium situated about where Utoxeter (Salop) now stands on banks of Severn

There is also one item which Pitt Rivers caused to be made, which was not accessioned until 2006:

1884.140.89 Delivery Catalogue II entry - Models of cromlechs and objects from Cissbury Hill Model of Kit's Coty House Kent 2946 Not exhibited 388 to 398 [a Neolithic chambered long barrow near Aylesford]

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.
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